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Boundary of Another World. 





" As it is the peculiar motliod of the Academy to interpose no personal judgment, 
but to admit those opinions which api^ear most probable, to compare arguments, and 
to set forth all that may be reasonably stated in favor of each proposition, and so, 
without obtruding anj- authority of its own, to leave the judgment of the hearers free 
and unprejudiced, we will retain this custom which has been handed down from 
Socrates; and this method, dear brother Quintus, if you please, we will adopt, as often 
as possible, in all our dialogues together." — Cicero de Divin. Lib. ii. §72. 







Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 18o9, bj' 


in the Clerk's OflRce of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern 
District of Pennsylvania. 


It may interest the reader, before perusing this volume, to 
know some of the circumstances which preceded and pro- 
duced it. 

The subjects of which it treats came originally under my 
notice in a land where, except to the privileged foreigner, such 
subjects are interdicted, — at Naples, in the autumn of 1855. 
Up to that period I had regarded the whole as a delusion 
which no prejudice, indeed, would have prevented my exa- 
mining with care, but in which, lacking such examination, I 
had no faith whatever. 

To an excellent friend and former colleague, the Viscount 
de St. Amaro, Brazilian Minister at Naples, I shall ever remain 
debtor for having first won my serious attention to phenomena 
of a magneto-psychological character and to the study of ana- 
logous subjects. It was in his apartments, on the 4th of March, 
1856, and in presence of himself and his lady, together with a 
member of the royal family of Naples, that I witnessed for the 
first time, with mingled feelings of surprise and incredulity, 
certain physical movements apparently without material 
agency. Three weeks later, during an evening at the Kussian 
■ Minister's, an incident occurred, as we say, fortuitously, which, 
after the strictest scrutiny, I found myself unable to explain 
without referring it to some intelligent agency foreign to the 
spectators present, — not one of whom, it may be added, knew 
or had practiced any thing connected with what is called Spi- 
ritualism or mediumship. From that day I determined to test 
the matter thoroughly. My public duties left me, in winter, 
few leisure hours, but many during the summer and autumn 
months : and that leisure, throughout more than two years, I 
devoted to an investigation (conducted partly by personal ob- 



servations made in domestic privacy, partly by means of books) 
of the great question whether agencies from another phase of 
existence ever intervene here, and operate, for good or evil, on 

For a time the observations I made were similar to those 
which during the last ten years so many thousands have insti- 
tuted in our country and in Europe, and my reading was 
restricted to works for and against Animal Magnetism and 
for and against the modern Spiritual theory. But, as the field 
opened before me, I found it expedient to enlarge my sphere 
of research, — to consult the best professional works on Phy- 
siology, especially in its connection with mental phenomena, 
on Psychology in general, on Sleep, on Hallucination, on 
Insanity, on the great Mental Epidemics of Eurojie and 
America, together with treatises on the Imponderables, — in- 
cluding Keichenbach's curious observations, and the records 
of interesting researches recently made in Prussia, in Italy, in 
England and elsewhere, on the subject of Human Electricity 
in connection with its influence on the nervous system and 
the muscular tissues. 

I collected, too, the most noted old works containing nar- 
rative collections of apparitions, hauntings, presentiments, and 
the like, accompanied by dissertations on the Invisible World, 
and toiled through formidable piles of chaff to reach a few 
gleanings of sound grain. 

Gradually I became convinced that what by many have been 
regarded as new and unexampled phenomena are but modern 
phases of what has ever existed. And I ultimately reached the 
conclusion that, in order to a proper understanding of much 
that has excited and perplexed the public mind under the name 
of Spiritual Manifestations, hi storical r gg^earch should x)i;ecede 
^£Xfi3X-2t bQ^ inqui ry, — that we ought to look throughout the 
past for classes of phenomena, and seek to arrange these, each 
in its proper niche. 

I was finally satisfied, also, that it behooved the student in 
this field (in the first instance, at least) to devote his attention 
y^o ^ontaneoiis^ phenomena, rather than to those that are 
evoked, — to appearances and disturbances that present them- 
selves occasionally only, it is true, but neither sought nor 
looked for ; like the rainbow, or the Aurora Borealis, or the 



wind that bloweth where it listeth, uncontrolled by the wishes 
or the agency of man. By restricting the inquiry to these, all 
suspicion of being misled by epidemic excitement or ex- 
pectant attention is completely set aside. 

A record of such phenomena, carefully selected and authen- 
ticated, constitutes the staple of the present volume. In 
putting it forth, I am not to be held, any more than is the na- 
turalist or the astronomer, to the imputation of tampering with. 
holy things. As regards the special purpose of this work, no 
charge of necromantic efforts or unlawful seeking need be 
met, since it cannot jjassibly aj)ply. The accusation, if any be 
brought, will be of a different character. If suspicion I incur, 
it will be not of sorcery, but of superstition, — of an endeavor, 
perhaps, to revive popular delusions which the lights of 
modern science have long since dispelled, or of stooping to 
put forth as grave relations of fact what are no better than 
idle nurs.ery-tales. ^f 

Accepting this issue, I am content to put myself on the 
country. I demand a fair trial before a jurj^ who have not 
prejudged the cause. I ask for my witnesses a patient hearing, 
well assured that the final verdict, be it as it may, will be iiv- 
accordance with reason and justice. 

Ijisph'e jiot Jo build up a theory. I doubt, as to this subject, if, 
whether any man living is yet prepared to do so. My less 
ambitious endeavor is_ to collect together solid, reliable build- 
ing-stones which may serve some future architect. Already 
bej'ond middle age, it is ^ortikeTylliat I shall continue here 
long enough to see the edifice erected. But others may. The 
race endures, though the individual pass to another stage of 

If I did not esteem my subject one of vast importance, I 
should be unworthy to approach its treatment. Had I found 
other writers bestowing upon it the attention which that im- 
portance merits, I should have remained silent. As it is, I 
have felt, with a modern author, that "the withholding of 
large truths from the world may be a betrayal of the greatest 

I am conscious, on the other hand, that one is ever apt to 

«- ''Friends in Council," Art. Truth. 


overestimate the importance of one's own labors. Yet even 
an effort such as this may suffice to give public opinion a true 
or a false direction. Great results are sometimes determined 
by humble agencies. "A ridge-tile of a cottage in Derbyshire," 
says Gisborne, "decides whether the rain which falls from 
heaven shall be directed to the German Ocean or the Atlantic.'' 
Let the reader, before he enters on the inquiry whether 
ultramundane interference be a great reality or a portentous 
delusion, permit me one additional remark. He will find that, 
in treating that hypothesis, I have left many things obscure 
and uninterpreted. Where no theory was clearly indicated, I 
preferred to state the facts and waive all explanation, having 
reached that period of life when, if good use has been made 
of past years, one is not ashamed to say, " I do not know," in 
any case in which that is the simple truth. We do well, how- 
ever, to bear in mind that a difficulty unsolved does not 
amount to an argument in opposition.* 

To the many friends whose kindness has aided my under- 
taking, these pages owe their chief value. To some therein 
named I am enabled here to tender my grateful acknowledg- 
ments. To others who have assisted in private I am not less 
deeply indebted. 

I doubt not that if I were to delay the publication of this 
book for some years I should find much to modify, some- 
thing to retract. But if, in this world, w^e postpone our work 
till we deem it perfect, death comes upon us in our hesitation, 
and we effect nothing, from bootless anxiety to effect too much. 

E. D. 0. 

* "Where we cannot answer all objections, we are bound, in reason and 
in candor, to adopt the hypothesis which labors under the least." — "Ele- 
ments of Logic" by Archbishop Whateley. 



Preface 3 

List of Authors Cited 13 




Statement of the Subject 17 

Is ultramundane interference reality, or delusion ? — The in- 
quiry practical, but hitherto discouraged — Time an essential 
element — Isaac Taylor — Jung Stilling — Swedenborg — Ani- 
mal Magnetism — Arago's opinion — Dr. Carpenter's admis- 
sions — The American epidemic — Phenomena independent 
of opinions— Sentiment linked to action — The home on the 
other side — Hades — Johnson's, Byron's, Addison's, and 
Steele's opinions — Truth in every rank — The Ghost-Club — 
Contempt corrects not — Spiritualism an influential element 
— Dangers of over-credulity — Demoniac manifestations — 
Reason the appointed pilot — Duty of research — How dispose 
of spontaneous phenomena? — Martin Korky — Courage and 
impartiality demanded — A besetting temptation — Feeble be- 
lief — Skepticism — Georget's conversion — Evidence of sense 
— Some truths appeal to consciousness — Severe test applied 
to the subject selected. 

The Impossible 60 

Columbus in Barcelona — The marvel of marvels — Presumption 
— There may be laAvs not yet in operation — Modern study 
of the imponderables — Arago's and Cuvier's admissions — 
What may be. 


The Miraculous 70 

Modern miracles rejected — Hume — The Indian prince — Defi- 
nition of a miracle — Change-bearing laws — Illustration from 



Ba^bbage's calculating machine — That which has been may 
not always be— An error of two phases — Alleged miracles — 
Convulsionists of St. M6dai-d — Spiritual agency, if it exist, 
not miraculous — Butler's and Tillotson's ideas of miracles. 

The Improbable 92 

Two modes of seeking truth — Circulation of the blood — Aero- 
lites — Rogers the poet, and La Place the mathematician — 
Former improbabilities — Argument as to concurrence in 
testimony — Love of the marvelous misleads — Haunted houses 
— The monks of Chantilly — Mental epidemics of Europe — 
Modesty enlists confidence — One success not disproved by 
twenty failures — Hallucination — Second-sight — Diagoras at 
Samothrace — Faraday on table-moving — Consequences of 
doubting our senses — Contending probabilities should be 




Sleep in" general 117 

A familiar marvel — An inscrutable world — Dreamless sleep — 
Perquin's observation — Does the soul sleep ? — A personal 
observation — Phases of sleep which have much in common 
— Sleeping powers occasionally transcend the waking — 
Cabanis — Condorcet — Condillac — Gregory — Franklin — Legal 
opinion written out in sleep — Hypnotism — Carpenter's ob- 
servations — Darwin's theory as to suspension of volition — 
Spiritual and mesmei-ic phenomena hypnotic — How is the 
nervous reservoir supplied ? — The cerebral battery, and how 
it may possibly he charged — A hypothesis. 

Dreams 137 

Ancient opinions — Dreams and insanity — Dreams from the 
ivory gate — Fatal credulity — Dreams may be suggested by 
slight causes — Dreams may be intentionally suggested — 
An ecstatic vision — The past recalled in dream — Dreams 
verifying themselves — The locksmith's apprentice — How 
a Paris editor obtained his wife — Death of Sir Charles 
Lee's daughter — Calphurnia — The fishing-party — Signer Ro- 



mano's story — Dreams indicating a distant death — Macnish's 
dream — A shipwreck fore;^hadowed — Dreams involving 
double coincidences — The lover's appearance in dream — 
Misleading influence of a romantic incident — Alderman 
Clay's dream — A Glasgow teller's dream — The Arrears of 
Teind — The same error may result in skepticism and in 
superstition — William Howitt's dream — Mary Ilowitt's dream 
— The murder near Wadebridge — The two field-mice — The 
Percival murder seen in dream — Dreams may disclose trivial 
events — One dream the counterpart of another — The Joseph 
Wilkins dream — A miracle without a motive ? — The Mary 
Goffe case — The Plymouth Club alarmed — "We must take 
trouble, if we will get at truth — An obscure explanation — 
Representation of cerebral action ? — Prescience in dreams — 
Goethe's grandfather — The visit foretold — The Indian mutiny 
foreshadowed — Bell and Stephenson — Murder by a negro 
prevented — Inference? from this case — Dreams recorded in 
Scripture — Are all dreams untrustworthy? 

disturba:nces popularly termed hauntings. 


General Character of the Phenomena 210 

No proof of gaudy supernaturalism — A startling element pre- 
sents itself — Poltergeister — What we find, not what we may 
expect to find — Ancient haunted houses. 

Narratives 214 

Disturbances at Tedworth — First example of responding of 
the sounds — Glanvil's observations — Mr. Mompesson's at- 
testation — The W^esley disturbances — .lohn Wesley's nar- 
rative — Emily W^esley's narrative, and her experience thirty- 
four years later — Opinions of Dr. Clarke, Dr. Priestley, 
Southey, and Coleridge — The New Havensack case — Mrs. 
Golding and her maid — The Castle of Slawensik — Disturb- 
ances in Silesia — Dr. Kerner's inquiries — Councilor Hahn's 
attestation — Twenty-five years aftei' — Disturbances in the 
dwelling of the Seeress of Prevorst — Displacement of house- 
rafters — The law-suit — Disturbances legally attested — The 
farm-house of Baldarroch — An alleged discovery — The ere- 



(lulousness of incredulity — Spicer's nari'ative of a four- 
year disturbance — The cemetery of Ahrensburg — Effects 
produced on animals — An official investigation — Its report 
— The Cideville parsonage — Disturbances in the north of 
France — Legal depositions — Verdict of the court — Additional 
proofs — The Rochester knockings — Disturbances at Hydes- 
ville — Kate Fox — Allegations of the sounds — Previous dis- 
turbances in the same house — Human bones found — Two 
peddlers disappear — One reappears — The other cannot be 
traced — The Stratford disturbances. 


Summing up 300 

Character of the testimony — Phenomena long continued, and 
such as could not be mei*e imaginations — No expectation to 
influence — No motive for simulation — Whither ultra skep- 
ticism leads — Did Napoleon Buonaparte ever exist ? 



Touching Hallucination 303 

Difficult to determine what is hallucination — The image on the 
retina — Opinions of Burdach, Miiller, Baillarger, Decham- 
bre, and De Boismont — Effects of imagination — Examples 
of different phases of hallucination — Illusion and hallu- 
cination — No collective hallucinations — Biological experi- 
ments — Keichenbach's observations — Exceptional cases of 
perception — The deaf-mute in the minority — Effect of medi- 
cine on perceptions — Is there evidence for epidemical halluci- 
nation ? — De Gasparin's argument — The fanciful and the real. 

Apparitions of the Living 317 

Jung Stilling's story — Apparition to a clergyman — Two appa- 
ritions of the living on the same day — The bride's terror 
— Suggestion as to rules of evidence — The Glasgow sur- 
geon's assistant — Sight and sound — Apparition of the living 
seen by mother and daughter — Was this hallucination? — 
Dr. Donne's wife — Apparition at sea — The rescue — Appa- 
rition of the living at sea, and its practical result — The dying 



mother and lier babe — Chai'acter of preceding phenomena 
how far indicated — The visionary excursion — Why a Livo- 
nian school-teacher lost her situation — Habitual apparition 
of a living person — The counterpart appears where the 
thoughts or aflections are ? 

Apparitions of the Dead 360 

The spiritual body — May it not occasionally show itself? — • 
A question not to be settled by closet theorists — Oberlin — 
His belief as to apparitions— Lorenzo the Magnificent and 
the Improvisatore — Mr. Grose and the skeptical cardinal — 
Anna Maria Porter's visitor — The dead body and the boat- 
cloak — Apparition in India — An atheist's theory examined 
— The brother's appearance to the sister — Apparition at the 
moment of death — The nobleman and his servant — Appa- 
rition witnessed by two independent observers — Louise — Tlie 
Wynyard apparition, with corroborative testimony — Appa- 
rition of a stranger — The iron stove — Glimpse of a species 
of future punishment? — The child's bones found — Is there 
repentance and progress beyond the tomb ? — Opinion of one 
of the Christian Fathers — The debt of three-and-tenpence — 
Human character little altered by the death-change ? — The 
stains of blood — The victim attracted to earth ? — The four- 
teenth of November — Through a (so-called) ghost an inac- 
curacy in a War-Office certificate is corrected — The old Kent 
manor-house — The Children family — Correct information 
regarding them obtained through an apparition — The author 
of Robinson Crusoe in a dilemma — Hades. 

BOOK y. 


Retribution 433 

The furies of the ancients not implacable — Modern examples 
of what seems retribution — The beautiful quadroon girl — • 
Can dreams embody requitals ? — W^hat a French actress 
sufi'ered — Annoyances continued throughout two years and 
a half — A dying threat apparently fulfilled — What an Eng- 
lish officer suffei'ed — Was it retribution ? 


Guardianship 454 

How Senator Linn's life was saved — Was it clairvoyance, or 
prescience ? — Help amid the snow-drifts — Unexpected con- 
solation — Gaspar — The rejected suitor — Is spiritual guard- 
ianship an unholy or incredible hypothesis ? 



The Change at Death 478 

A theory must not involve absurd results — "Whence can the 
dead return ?-40haracter but slightly changed at death-^ 
Spiritual theory involves two postulates — Hades swept om. 
along with purgatory — How the matter stands historically 
— The Grecian Hades — The Jewish Sheol — What becomes 
of the soul immediately after death? — An abrupt meta- 
morphosis ? — A final doom, or a state of progress ? — How 
human character is formed here — The postulates rational — 
What has resulted from discarding Hades — Enfeebling ef- 
fect of di^ance — The loss of identity — The conception of 
two lives-A^Ian cannot sympathize with that for which he 
is not prepared — The virtuous reasonably desire and expect 
another stage of actioi^^Human instincts too little studied 
— Man's nature and his situation — The Ideal — The utterings 
of the presaging voice-A^Ian remains, after death, a human 
creatui'e-^-Footfalls — A master-influence in another world — 
We are journeying toward a land of love and truth — What 
death is — What obtains the rites of sepulture. 


Conclusion 506 

Admissions demanded by reason — The invisible and inaudible 
world — We may expect outlines rather than filling up — 
Man's choice becomes his judge — Pneumatology of the 
Bible — More light hereafter. 

Appendix — Note A. Circular of the Cambridge Ghost-Club.. .513 
Note B. Testimony: Yiew taken by two oppo- 
sing Schools 517 

Index 521 


Abercrombie. Intellectual Powers. 

Abrautes, Memoires de Madame la Duchesse de, ecrits par elle-meme, Paris, 

Account of the French Prophets and their Pretended Inspirations, London, 

Alexander ab Alexandre ; about 1450. 
Arago. Biographie de Jean-Sylvain Bailly, Paris, 1853. 
Aristotle. De Divinatione et Somuiis. 
Aubrey's Miscellanies. 

Babbage. Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, London, 1838. 
Bacon's Essays, London, 1597. 
Baillarger. Des Hallucinations. 
Bailly. Report on Mesmerism, made to the King of France, August 11, 

Baxter. The Certainty of the World of Spirits, London, 1691. 
Beaumont. An Historical, Physiological, and Theological Treatise of 

Spirits, London, 1705. 
Beecher, Rev. Charles. Review of Spiritual Manifestations. 
Bennett, Professor. The Mesmeric Mania, Edinburgh, 1851. 
Bertrand. Traite du Somnambulisme, Paris, 1823. 
Bichat. Recherches Physiologiques sur la Vie et la Mort, Paris, 1805. 
Binns, Edward, M.D. The Anatomy of Sleep, 2d ed., London, 1845. 
Blackstone's Commentaries. 
Boismont, De. Des Hallucinations, Paris, 1852. 
Bovet. The Devil's Cloyster, 1684. 

Braid, James. Neurypnology, or the Rationale of Sleep, London, 1843. 
Brewster, Sir David. The Martyrs of Science, London, 1856. 
Brodie, Sir B. Psychological Inquiries, 3d ed., London, 1856. 
Browne, Sir Thomas. "Works. 
Burdach. Traitg de Physiologie, Paris, 1839. 
Bushnell, Horace. Nature and the Supernatural, New York, 1858. 
Butler's Analogy of Religion to the Constitution and Course of Nature. 
Calmeil. De la Folic, Paris, 1845. 
Capron. Modern Spiritualism, Boston, 1853. 

2 13 


Carlyon, Clemeut, M.D. Early Years and Late Reflections. 

Carpenter, William B., M.D. Principles of Human Physiology, 5th ed,, 

Causes Celebres. 

Chalmers's Evidences of the Christian Religion. 

Chaucer's Tale of the Chanon Yeman. 

Christmas, Rev. Henry. Cradle of the Twin Griants, Science ajid History, 
London, 1849. 

Cicero de Divinatione. 

de Natura Deorum. 

Clairon, Memoires de Mademoiselle, Actrice du Theatre Pran^ais, ecrits 
par elle-mome, Paris, 1822. 

Clarke, Dr. Memoirs of the Wesley Family, 2d ed., London, 1843. 

Coleridge's Lay Sermons. 

Court, M. Histoire des Troubles des Cevennes, Alais, 1819. 

Crowe, Catherine. Night Side of Nature, 1848. Ghosts and Family 
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Cuvier. Legons d'Anatomie comparee. 

Dechambre. Analyse de I'OuvTage du Docteur Szafkowski sur les Hallu- 
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De Foe, Daniel. Universal History of Apparitions, London, 1727. 

Dendy, W. C. Philosophy of Mystery. 

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Essays written during the Intervals of Business, London, 1853. 

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Georget. De la Physiologie du Systeme nerveux, Paris, 1821. 

Glanvil. Sadducismus Triumphatus, 3d ed., London, 1689. 

Goethe. Aus meinem Leben. 

Grose, Francis, F.A.S. Provincial Glossary and Popular Superstition, 
London, 1790. 

Hare, Robert, M.D. Experimental Examination of the Spirit-Manifesta- 
tions, 4th ed., New York, 1856. 


Hazlitt's Round Table. 

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2d ed., London, 1851. 

Histoire des Diables de Loudun, Amsterdam, 1693. 

Holland. Chapters on Mental Physiology, London, 1852. 

Huidekoper, Frederick. The Belief of the First Three Centuries concerning 
Christ's Mission to the Underworld. 

Humboldt, Baron. Cosmos. 

Versuche Uber die gereizte Muskel- und Nervenfascr. 

Hume's Essays. 

Insulanus, Theophilus. Treatise on Second-Sight, Dreams, and Apparitions, 
Edinburgh, 1763. 

Johnson's Rasselas. 

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Kepleri Epistolas. 

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Locke on the Human Understanding. 

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Diables de Loudun, Paris, 1747. 

Mirville, Marquis de. Des Esprits, et de leurs Manifestations fluidiques, 
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Priestley, Dr. Original Letters by the Rev. John Wesley and his Friends, 
London, 1791. 

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Reichenbach. Untersuchungen iiber die Dynamide. 
Sensitive Mensch. 


Reid's Essays on the Mind. 

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Report of the Mysterious Noises at Hydesville, Canandaigua, April, 1848. 
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Rogers' Table-Talk. 
Rogers, E. C. Philosophy of Mysterious Agents, Human and Mundane, 

Boston, 1853. 
Roman Ritual. 

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Scott, Sir Walter. Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft, 2d ed., 1857. 
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Spectator for July 6, 1711. 
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Stilling, Jung. Theorie der Geisterkunde, 1809. 
Stober. Vie de J. F. Oberlin. 
Strahan, Rev. George, D.D. Prayers and Meditations of Dr. Samuel 

Johnson, London, 1785. 
Strauss. Life of Jesus. 

Taylor, Isaac. Physical Theory of Another Life, London, 1839. 
Taylor, Joseph. Danger of Premature Interment. 
Theologia Mystica, ad usum Directorum Animarum, Paris, 1848. 
Tillotson's Sermons. 
Tissot, le Pere. Histoire Abregee de la Possession des Ursulines de Loudun, 

Paris, 1828. 
Torquemada. Flores Curiosas, Salamanca, 1570. 
Walton, Isaac. The Lives of Dr. John Donne, Sir Henry Wotton, &c., 

Oxford edition, 1824. 
Warton's History of English Poetry. 
Welby, Horace. Signs before Death, London, 1825. 
Whateley, Archbishop.' Historic Doubts relative to Napoleon Buonaparte 

12th ed., London, 1853. 
Whateley, Archbishop. Elements of Logic. 
Wigan. Duality of the Mind, London, 1844. 
Wraxall, Sir N. William. Historical Memoirs of my Own Time. 







"As I did ever hold, there mought be as great a vanitie in retiring 
and withdrawing men's conceites (except they bee of some nature) from 
the world as in obtruding them ,■ so, in these particulars, I have plaj-ed 
myself the Inquisitor, and find nothing to my understanding in them con- 
trarie or infectious to the state of Religion or manners, but rather, as I 
suppose, medecinable." — Bacon: Dedication to Essays, 1597. 

In an age so essentially utilitarian as the present, no 
inquiry is likely to engage the permanent attention of 
the public, unless it be practical in its bearings. 

Even then, if the course of such inquiry lead to the 
examination of extraordinar}^ phenomena, it will be 
found that evidence the most direct, apparently sufficing 
to prove the reality of these, will usually leave the minds 
of men incredulous, or in doubt, if the appearances be 
of isolated character, devoid of authentic precedent in 
the past, and incapable of classification, in the proper 
niche, among analogous results; much more, in case 
they involve a suspension of the laws of nature. 

B 2- ir 


If I entertain a hope of winning the pubhc ear, while 
I broach, broadly and frankly, the question whether 
occasional interferences from another world in this be 
reahty or delusion, it is, first, because I feel confident 
in being able to show that the inquiry is of a practical 
nature; and, secondly, because the phenomena which I 
purpose to examine in connection with it are not of iso- 
lated, still less of miraculous, character. In the etymo- 
logical sense of the term, they are not unlikely, there 
being many of their like to be found adequately attested 
throughout history. They appear in grouj^s, and lend 
themselves, like all other natural phenomena, to classifi- 

Extraordinary, even astounding, they will usually be 
considered; and that, not so much because they are 
really uncommon, as because they have been, in a mea- 
sure, kept out of sight. And this again arises, in part, 
because few dispassionate observers have patiently 
examined them; in part, because prejudice, which dis- 
credits them, has prevented thousands to whom they 
have presented themselves from bearing public or even 
private testimony to what they have witnessed; in part, 
again, because, although these phenomena are by no 
means of modern origin, or determined b}^ laws but 
recently operative, they appear to have much increased 
in frequency and variety, and to have reached a new 
stage of development, in the last few years; and finally, 
because they are -such as readily stir up in weak minds 
blind credulity or superstitious terror, the prolific 
sources of extravagance and exaggeration. Thus the 
intelligent conceal and the ignorant misstate them. 

This condition of things complicates the subject, and 
much increases the difficulty of treating it. 

Again: though no article of human faith is better 
founded than the belief in the ultimate prevalence of 
truth, yet, in every thing relating to earthly progress, 


time enters as an essential element. The irult drops 
not till it has ripened: if nipped by early blight or 
2)lucked by premature hand it is imperfect and worth- 
less. And the world of mind, like that of physical 
nature, has its seasons : its spring, when the sajD rises 
and the buds swell; its summer, of opened flower and 
blossom; its autumn, of yellow grain. We must not 
expect to reap, in any field, until harvest-time. 

Yet, how gradual soever time's innovations and the 
corresponding progress of the human mind, there are 
certain epochs at which, by what our short sight calls 
chance, particular subjects spring forth into notice, as 
it were, by a sudden impulse, attracting general atten- 
tion, and thus predisposing men's minds to engage in 
their investigation. At such epochs, words that at 
other times would fall unheeded may sink deep and 
bear good fruit. 

It seldom happens, however, at the first outbreak of 
any great excitement, when some strange novelty seems 
bursting on the world, that the minds of men, whether 
of supporters or of opponents, maintain due moderation, 
either in assent or in denial. The hasty ardor of new- 
born zeal, and the sense, quick to offense when first im- 
pinged upon, of prejudice long dominant, alike indispose 
to calm inquiry, are alike unfavorable to critical judg- 

And thus, at the present day, perhaps, (when the 
din of the earliest onset has subsided and the still 
small voice ' can be heard,) rather than at any period 
of the last ten years, during which our country has 
witnessed the rise and progress of what may be called 
a revival of Pneumatology, may the subject be discussed 
with less of passion and received with diminished preju- 
dice. And if a writer, in treating of it at this juncture, 
escape some of those shoals upon which earlier inquirers 
have stranded, it may be due as much to a happy selec- 


tion of time, as to any especial merit or superior dis- 

Then, too, as to the great question of which I purpose 
to examine the probabilities, recent events have not only 
enlisted the attention of the audience : they have also, 
in a measure, opened way for the speaker. The strict- 
ness of the taboo is relaxed. And this was grenily to 
be desired. For the inquiry touching the probability of 
ultramundane intervention — though it cannot be said to 
have been lost sight of at any moment since the dawn 
of civilization, though Scrij^ture affirm it as to former 
ages, and though, throughout later times, often in 
various superstitious shapes, it has challenged the ter- 
rors of the ignorant — had seemed, for a century past, 
to be gradually" losing credit and reputable standing, 
and to be doomed to exclusion from respectable society 
or philosophical circles. Able men cared not to jeopard 
a reputation for common sense by meddling with it at all. 

With honorable exceptions, however. Of these I have 
met with none so original in thought, so philosophic in 
spirit, as Isaac Taylor. Yet he has treated, with a 
master's hand, one branch only of the subject, — the 

Another portion of this field of research has been 
partially occupied, from time to time, b}^ a class of 
writers, often German, usually set down as superstitious 
dreamers; of which Jung Stilling, perhaps, is one of 
the fairest exam pies. f Pious, earnest, able, of a pro- 

* "Physical Theory of Another Life," by the Author of the "Natural 
History of Enthusiasm," (Isaac Taylor,) 1 vol. 12mo, pp. 336. London, 

f "Theorie der Geisierhunde," ("Theory of Spiritualism," or, literally, of 
Spirit-Knowledge,) by Jung Stilling, originally published in 1809. Johann 
Heinrich Jung, better known by his adjunct name of Stilling, born in the 
Duchy of Nassau in 1740, rose from povert}' and the humblest position to 
he, first. Professor of Political Economy at Heidelberg, and afterward a 
member of the Aulic Council of the Grand Duke of Baden. 


bity beyond suspicion, but somcAvha,t mystical withal, 
the Aulic Councilor of Baden sought proofs of his 
speculations in alleged actual occurrences, (as appari 
lions, house-hauntings, and the like,) the records of 
which he adopted, and thereupon erected his spirit- 
theory with a facility of belief for which the apparent 
evidence seems, in many of the examples cited, to be 
insufficient warrant. In our day others have pursued a 
similar line of argument; in one instance, at least, if 
sixteen editions in six years may vouch for the fact, 
attracting the sympathy of the public* 

Jacob Bohme is by some exalted to the highest rank among pneumatolo- 
gistsj but I confess to inability to discover much that is practical, or even 
intelligible, in the mystical eflfusions of the worthy shoemaker of Gorlitz. 
The fault, however, may be in myself; for, as some one has said, " He is 
ever the mystic who lives in the world farthest removed from our own." 

Swedenborg, the great spiritualist of the eighteenth century, is a writer 
as to whose voluminous works it would be presumptuous to offer an opinion 
without a careful study of them ; and that I have not yet been able to 
give. This, however, one may safely assert, — that whatever judgment we 
may pass on what the Swedish seer calls his spiritual experience, and how 
little soever we may be prepared to subscribe to the exclusive claims 
unwisely set up for him by some of his disciples, an eminent spirit 
and power speak from his writings, which, even at a superficial glance, 
must arrest the attention of the right-minded. His idea of Degrees and 
Progression, reaching from earth to heaven ; his doctrine of Uses, equally 
removed from ascetical dreamery and from Utilitarianism in its hard, 
modern sense ; his allegation of Influx, or, in other words, of constant in- 
fluence exerted from the spiritual world on the material ; even his strange 
theory of Correspondences ; but, last and chief, his glowing appreciation 
of that principle of Love which is the fulfilling of the Law; these and 
other kindred characteristics of the Swedenborgian system are of too deep 
and genuine import to be lightly passed by. To claim for them nothing 
more, they are at least marvelously suggestive, and therefore highly valuable. 

For the rest, one may appreciate Swedenborg outside of Swcdeuborgian- 
ism. "For ourselves," said Margaret Fuller, "it is not as a seer of 
Ghosts, but as a seer of Truths, that Swedenborg interests us." 

* ''Night Side of Nature," by Catherine Crowe, London, 1 vol. 12mo, pp. 
602. The work, originally published in 1848, reached its sixteenth thousand 
in 1S54. In common with the older narrative collections of Glanvil, 
Mnther, Baxter, Beaumont, Sinclair, De Foe, and others of similar r-tamp, 


It may be conceded, however, that these narratives 
have commonly been read rather to amuse an idle hour 
than for graver purpose. They have often excited 
wonder, seldom produced conviction. But this, as I 
think, is due, not to actual insufficiency in this field, 
but rather, first, to an unphilosophical manner of pre- 
senting the subject, — a talking of wonders and miracles, 
when there was question only of natural, even if ultra- 
mundane, phenomena; and, secondly, to an indiscri- 
minate mixing-up of the reliable with the apocryphal, 
to lack of judgment in selection and of industry in veri- 
fication. I have not scrupled freely to cull from this 
department; seeking, however, to separate the wheat 
from the chaff, and content, in so doing, even if the avail- 
able material that remains shall have shrunk to some- 
what petty dimensions. 

Essentially connected with this inquiry, and to be 
studied by all who engage therein, are the phenomena 
embraced in what is usually called Animal Magnetism. 
First showing itself in France, three-quarters of a century 
ago, its progress arrested at the outset, when its claims 
were vague and its chief phenomena as yet unobserved, 
by the celebrated report of Baill}^,* often falling into 

it is obnoxious to the same criticism as that of Stilling; jet any one who 
feels disposed t(j cast the volume aside as a mere idle trumping-up of ghost- 
stories might do well first to read its Introduction, and its Tenth Chapter on 
" the future that awaits us." 

A recent volume by ihe same author (" Ghosts and Family Legends," 
1859) makes no pretension to authenticity, nor to any higher purpose 
than to help whUe away a winter evening. 

* Made to the King of France, on the 11th of August, 1784. It was 
signed, among other members of the commission, by Franklin and Lavoisier. 

It should especially be borne in mind that, while the commissioners, in 
that report, speak in strong terms against the magnetism of 1784, with its 
haqiiets, its crimes, and its convulsions, — against Mesmer's theory, too, of 
a universal fluid with flux and reflux, the medium of influence by the celestial 
bodies on the human system, and a universal curative agent, — they express 
uo opinion whatever, favorable or unfavorable, in regard to somnambulism 


the hands of untrained and superficial observers, some- 
times of arrant charhitans, its pretensions extravagantly 
stated by some and arrogantly denied by others, Animal 
Magnetism has won its way through the errors of its 

properly so called. It is usually admitted that somnambulism, with its attend- 
ant phenomena, in the form now known to us, was observed, for the lirst time, 
by the Marquis de Puysegur, on his estate of Buzancy, near Suissons, on the 4th 
of March, 1784 ; but Puysegur made public his observations only at the close 
of that 3'eur, four mouths after the commissioners' report was made. Bailly 
and his associates, learned and candid as they Avere, must not be cited as 
condemning that which they had never seen nor heard of. To this fact 
Arago, a man who rose superior to the common prejudices of his associates, 
honestly testifies. 1 translate from his notice of the life and career of the 
unfortunate Bailly, published in the "Annuaire du Bureau des Loijgitudes" 
for 1853. " The report of Bailly," says he, " upset from their foundations the 
ideas, the system, the practice, of Mesmer and his disciples : let Sis add, in 
all sincerity, that we have no right to evoke its authority against modern 
somnamhnHsm. Most of the phenomena now grouped around that name 
were neither known nor announced in 1783. A magnetizer undoubtedly 
says one of the least probable things in the world, when he tells us that 
such an individual, in a state of somnambulism, can see every thing in per- 
fect darkness, or read through a wall, or even without the aid of the eyes. 
But the improbability of such assertions does not result from the celebrated 
report. Bailly does not notice such marvels, ^ither to assert or to deny 
them. The naturalist, the physician, or the mere curious investigator, who 
engages in somnambulic experiments, who thinks it his duty to inquire 
whether, in certain states of nervous excitement, individuals are really 
endowed with extraordinary faculties, — that, for instance, of reading through 
the epigastrium or the heel, — who desires to ascertain positively up to what 
point the phenomena announced with so much assurance by^odern mag- 
netizers belong only to the domain of the rogue or the conjurer, — all such 
inquirers, we say, are not in this case running counter to a judgment ren- 
dered ; they are not really opposing themselves to a Lavoisier, a Franklin, a 
Bailly. They are entering upon a world entirely new, the very existence 
of which these illustrious sages did not suspect." — (pp. 444-445.) 

A little further on in the same article, Arago adds, " My object has been 
to show that somnambulism ought not to be rejected a 2yrioH, especially by 
those who have kept up with the progress of modern physical science." 
And, in reproof of that presumption which so often denies without examin- 
ing, he quotes these excellent lines, which, he says, the truly learned ought 
to bear constantly in mind: — 

" Croire tout decouvert est une errevir profonde ; 
C'est prendre I'horizon pour les bornes du monde." 


friends and the denunciations of its enemies, and (what 
is harder \'et to combat) through frequent mystifications 
by impostors and occasional gross abuse of its powers, 
to the notice and the researches of men of unquestioned 
talent and standing, — among them, eminent members of 
the medical profession, — and has at last obtained a 
modest place even in accredited and popular treatises 
on physiological science.* 

The alleged proofs and analogical arguments above 
alluded to in favor of ultramundane intercourse, together 
with such corroboration as the phenomena of somnam- 
bulism afford, were all given to the world previous to 
the tiine when, in the obscure village of Hydesville, 
a young girljf responding to the persistent knockings 
which for several nights had broken the rest of her 
mother and sisters, chanced upon the discovery that 

* An example may be found in " Principles of Human Physiology," by 
William B. Carpenter, M.D., F.R.S. and F.G.S., 5tli edition, London, 1855, 
^ 096, (at pages 647 et seq.,) under the head " Mesmerism." Dr. Car- 
penter discredits the higher phenomena of Clairvoyance, but admits, 
1st. A state of complete insensibility, during which severe surgical opera- 
tions may be performed without the consciousness of the patient. 2d. Arti- 
ficial somnambulism, with manifestation of the ordinary power of mind, but 
no recollection, in the waking state, of what has passed. .3d. Exaltation 
of the senses during such somnambulism, so that the somnambule perceives 
what in his na't'ural condition he could not. 4th. Action, during such som- 
nambulism, on the muscular apparatus, so as to produce, for example, arti- 
ficial catalepsy; and, 5th. Perhaps curative efiects. 

Dr. Carpenter says his mind is made up as to the reality of these pheno- 
mena, and that "he does not see why any discredit should attach to them," 
(Note at page 649.) 

The character and standing of this gentleman's numerous works on 
physiology and medical science are too widely known to need indorsement. 

f Kate, youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Fox, and then aged 
nine. It was on the night of the 31st of March, 1848. This was, however, 
as will be seen in the sequel, by no means the first time that the observa- 
tion had been made that similar sounds showed appearance of intelligence. 

For the particulars of the Hydesville story, see the last narrative in 
Book IIL 


these soiinds seemed to exliibit characteristics of intel- 

From that day a new and important phase has offered 
itself to the attention of the student in pneumatology, 
and with it a new duty; that of determining the true 
character of what is sometimes termed the American 
EpidemiC; more Avonderful in its manifestations, far wider 
spread in its range, than any of the mental epidemics, 
marvelous in their phenomena as some of them have 
been, recorded by physicians and psychologists of con- 
tinental Europe. 

From that day, too, there gradually emerged into notice 
a new department in the science of the soul, — the posi- 
tive and experimental. Until now the greater number of 
accredited works on psychology or pneumatology havo 
been made up exclusivelj- of sj)eculations drawn either 
from analogy or from history, sacred or profane, — emi- 
nent sources, yet not the only ones. l!so such work ought 
now to be regarded as complete without an examination 
of phenomena as well as a citation of authorities. And 
thus, though a portion of the present volume consists 
of historical recallings, since the wonders of the present 
can seldom be fitly judged without the aid of the past, 
another and larger portion embraces narratives of 
modern date, phenomena of comparatively recent occur- 
rence, the evidence for which has been collected with 
the same care with which a member of the legal pro- 
fession is wont to examine his witnesses and prepare 
his case for trial. 

In perusing a work of this character, the reader will 
do well to bear in mind that phenomena exist indepen- 
dently of all opinions touching their nature or origin. 
A fact is not to be slis-hted or disbelieved because a 
false theory may have been put forth to explain it. It 
has its importance, if it be important at all, irrespective 
of all theories. 



And if it should be alleged^ as to this class of facts, 
that they have no intrinsic importance, the reply is, first, 
that although the present age, as at the outset I have ad- 
mitted, be a utilitarian one, — though it seek the positive 
and hold to the j^ractical, — yet the positive and the prac- 
tical may be understood in a sense falsely restrictive. 
Man does not live by bread alone. He lives to develop 
and to improve, as much as to exist. And development 
and improvement are things as real as existence itself. 
That which brings home to our consciousness noble 
ideas, refined enjoyment, that which bears good fruit in 
the mind, even though we perceive it not with our eyes 
nor touch it with our hands, is something else than an 
idle dream. The poetry of life is more than a metaphor. 
Sentiment is linked to action. Xor is the world, with 
all its hard materialism, dead to these truths. There is 
a corner, even in our work-a-day souls, where the ideal 
lurks, and whence it may be called forth, to become, 
not a mere barren fancy, but the prolific parent of pro- 
gress. And from time to time it is thus called forth, to 
ennoble and to elevate. It is not the enthusiast only 
who aspires. ^Yhat is civilization but a realization of 
human aspirations ? 

Yet I rest not the case here, in generalities. When 
I am told that studies such as form the basis of this 
work are curious only, and speculative in their character, 
leading to nothing of solid value, and therefore un- 
worthy to engage the serious attention of a business 
world, my further reply is, that such allegation is a 
virtual begging of the very question which in this 
volume I propose to discuss. It is an assuming of the 
negative in advance ; it is a taking for granted that the 
phenomena in question cannot possibly establish the 
reality of ultramundane interference. 

For, if the}^ do, he must be a hardy or a reckless man 
who shall ask, " Where is the good V This id not our 


abiding-place; and though, during our tenancy of sixty 
or seventy ycars^ it behoove us to task our best energies 
in the cause of earthly improvement and happiness, — 
though it be our bounden duty, while here, to care, in a 
measure, for the worldly welfare of all, more especially 
for the wants and comforts of our own domestic hearth, — 
and though, as human workers, much the larger portion 
of our thoughts and time must be, or ought to be, thus 
employed, — yet, if our permanent dwelling-place is soon 
to be established elsew^here; if, as the years pass, our 
affections are stealing thither before us ; if the home- 
circle, gradually dissolving here, is to be reconstituted, 
fresh and enduring, in other regions,* shall we hold it 
to be matter of mere idle curiosity, fantastic and in- 
different, to ascertain, whether, in sober truth, an inti- 
mation from that future home is ever permitted to reach 
us, here on our pilgrimage, before we dej)art ? 

We cannot curtly settle this question, as some assume 
to do, by an a priori argument against the. possibility of 
human intercourse with the denizens of another world. 
Especially is the Bible Christian barred from employing 

-;•:- <<We start in life an unbroken company: brothers and sisters, friends 
and lovers, neighbors and comrades, are with us : there is circle within cir- 
cle, and each one of us is at the charmed center, where the heart's affections 
are aglow and whence they radiate outward on society. Youth is exuberant 
with joy and hope; the earth looks fair, for it sparkles with May-dews wet, 
and no shadow hath fallen upon it. We are all here, and we could live here 
forever. The home-center is on the hither side of the river; and why should 
we strain our eyes to look beyond ? But this state of things does not con- 
tinue long. Our circle grows less and less. It is broken and broken, and 
then closed up again ; but every break and close make it narrower and 
smaller. Perhaps before the sun is at his meridian the majority are on 
the other side; the circle there is as large as the one here ; and we arc di-awn 
contrariwise and vibrate between the two. A little longer, and almost all 
have crossed over ; the balance settles down on the spiritual side, and the 
home-center is removed to the upper sphere. At length you see nothing 
but an aged pilgrim standing alone on the river's bank and looking ear- 
nestly toward the country on the other side." — " Foregleamsof ImmortaUty," 
by Edmund H. Sears, 4th ed., Boston, 1858: chap, xvi., '-'Home," p. 136. 


any such. That Avhich has been may be.* The Scrip- 
tures teach that such intercourse did exist in earUer 
days ; and they nowhere declare that it was thenceforth 
to cease forever. 

And when^ in advance of any careful examination of 
this question, w^e decide that, in our day at least, no 
such intervention is possible, it might be well that we 
consider Avhether our Sadducism go not further than we 
think for; whether, without our consciousness perhaps, 
it strike not deeper than mere disbelief in modern 
spiritual agencies. Let us look to it, that, in slightingly 
discarding what it is the fashion to regard as supersti- 
tion, we may not be virtually disallowing also an essen- 
tial of faith.f Does the present existence of another 
world come home to us as a living truth? Do we 
verily believe that beings of another sphere are around 
us, watching, caring, loving ? Is it w4th our hearts, or 

■*- <nYhy come not spirits from the realms of glory, 

To visit earth, as in the days of old, — 

The times of ancient writ and sacred story ? 

Is heaven more distant ? or has earth grown cold ? . . . 

"To Bethlehem's air was their last anthem given 
When other stars before the One grew dim ? 
Was their last presence known in Peter's prison, 
Or where exulting martyrs raised the hymn ?" 

Julia Wallice. 

f Whence do such able reasoners as Dr. Strauss derive their most efficient 
weapons in the assault upon existing faith ? From the modern fashion of 
denying all ultramundane intrusion. That which we reject as incredible 
if alleged to have happened to-day, by what process does it become credible 
by being moved back two thousand years into the past? 

"The totality of finite things," says Strauss, "forms a vast circle, which, 
except that it owes its existence and laws to a superior power, suffers no 
intrusion from without. This conviction is so much a habit of thought 
with the modern world, that in actual life the belief in a supernatural 
manifestation, an immediate divine agency, is at once attributed to igno- 
lance or imposture." — ^'Life of Jesus,'* vol. i. p. 71. 

HADES. 29 

with our lips only, that we assent, if indeed we do as- 
sent,* to the doctrine contained in Milton's lines? — 

"Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth, 
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep." 

If all this be more to iis than mere idle sound, with 
what show of reason can we take it for granted, as a point 
settled prior to all discussion of it, that intercourse with 
another world is no longer vouchsafed to us in this ? 

All reasoning a piiori, *if resorted to at all, tells in 
favor of such intervention. One of the strongest 
natural arguments in proof of the soul's immortality 
has ever been held to be the universality of man's 
belief in an after-life ; a sentiment so common to all 
ages and nations that it may claim the character of an 
instinct.f But the belief in the occasional appearance, 

* " Men have ever been familiar with the idea that the spirit does not 
rest with the body in the grave, but passes at once into new conditions of 
being. The opinion has gained adherence, and disputes the ground with 
the more material one, that it rests in sleep with the body to await one 
common day of awakening and judgment 5 and so confused are the common 
impressions on the subject that you may hear a clergyman, in his funeral 
sermon, deliberately giving expression to both in one discourse, and telling 
you, in the same breath, that my lady lately deceased is a patient inhabit- 
ant of the tomb, and a member of the angelic company. But the idea of 
uninterrupted life has so strong a hold on the affections, which cannot bear 
the idea of even the temporary extinction of that which they cling to, that 
it has the instinctive adherence of almost every one who has felt deeply 
and stood face to face with death." — (London) National Review for July, 
1858, p. 32. 

The question of a mediate state of existence commencing at the moment 
of death, the Hades alike of the ancients and of early Christianity, will be 
touched upon later in this volume. 

There are those who admit the objective reality of apparitions, yet, deny- 
ing the existence of any mediate state after death, adopt the theory that it 
is angels of an inferior rank created such, who, for good purpose, occasion- 
ally personate deceased persons, and that the departed never return. This 
is De Foe's hypothesis, and is ably advocated by him in his "Universal His- 
tory of A])paritions," London, 1727. 

The broad question is, whether ''spiritual creatures," be they angels or 
departed souls, are present around us. 

t The best analogical argument which I remember to have met with in 



or influence on human affairs, of disembodied spirits,'^ is 
scarcely less general or less instinctive; though it is to 
be admitted that in the Dark Ages it commonly de- 
generated into demonology.f The principle, however, 
may be true and the form erroneous; a contingency 
of constant recurrence throughout the history of the 
human mind, as when religion, for example, assumed 
and maintained for ages the pagan form. 

The matter at issue, them must be grappled with 
more closely. We have no right to regard it as a 
closed question, bluffly to reject it as involving incredi- 
ble assumptions, or to dismiss it with foregone conclu- 
sions under terms of general denial.| It is neither 

favor of the immortality of the soul is contained in Isaac Taylor's work 
already referred to, the "Physical Theory of Another Life," at pp. 64 to 69. 
This argument from analogy must, I think, be regarded as much more 
forcible than the abstract logic by which the ancient philosophers sought to 
establish the truth in question. When Cicero, following Socrates and 
Plato, says of the soul, " Nee discerpi, nee distrahi potest, nee igitur in- 
terire," the ingentiity of the reasoning is more apparent than its con- 

* Disembodied, disconnected from this natural body; not imemhodied; 
for I by no means impugn the hypothesis of a spiritual body. — 1 Cor. xv. 44. 

■j" " To deny the possibility, nay, actual existence, of witchcraft and sor- 
cery, is at once flatly to contradict the revealed word of God, in various 
passages both of the Old and New Testament ; and the thing itself is a truth 
to which every nation in the world hath, in its turn, borne testimony, either 
by examples seemingly well attested, or by prohibitory laws, which at least 
suppose the possibility ef commerce with evil spirits." — Blackstone'a Com- 
mentaries, b. 4, c. 4, § 6. 

I adduce the above from so distinguished a source on account of its bear- 
ings on the universality of man's belief in ultramundane intercourse, and to 
rebut a presumption against that intercourse, now in vogue ; not as proof 
of the reality of such intercourse. 

J It may not be amiss here to remind the reader that by such men as 
Johnson and Byron the universal belief of man in intercourse with the 
spirits of the departed was regarded as probable proof of its occasional 
reality. It will be remembered that the former, in his " Rasselas," puts 
into the mouth of the sage Imlac this sentiment: — "That the dead are seen 
no more I will not undertake to maintain against the concurrent testimony 


logical nor becoming for men to decide, in advance of 
investigation, that it is contrary to the divine economy 
that there should be ultramundane interference. It is 
our business to examine the Creator's works, and 
thence, if needs we must, to derive conclusions as to His 
intentions. It is our province to seek out and establish 

of all ages and all nations. There is no people, rude or unlearned, among 
whom apparitions of the dead are not related and believed. This opinion, 
which prevails as far as human nature is diffused, could become universal 
only by its truth : those that never heard of one another would not have 
agreed in a tale which nothing but experience could make credible. That 
it is doubted by single cavilers can very little weaken the general evi- 
dence; and some who deny it with their tongues confess it with their 

To this passage Byron alludes in the following : — 

"I merely mean to say what Johnson said, 

That, in the course of some six thousand years. 

All nations have believed that from the dead 
A visitant at intervals appears. 

And what is strangest upon this strange head, 
Is, that, whatever bar the reason rears 

'Gainst such belief, there's something stronger still 

In its behalf, let those deny who will." 

Addison's opinion on the same subject is well known. It is contained 
in one of the numbers of The Spectator ascertained to be from his pen, — 
namely, No. 110, published Frida}', July 6, 1711, — and is in these words: — 

" I think a person who is thus terrified with the imagination of ghosts 
and specters much more reasonable than one who, contrary to the reports 
of all historians, sacred and profane, ancient and modern, and to the 
traditions of all nations, thinks the appearance of spirits fabulous and 
groundless. Could not I give myself up to this general testimony of man- 
kind, I should to the relations of particular persons who are now living, 
and whom I cannot distrust in other matters of fact." 

Another distinguished contributor to The Spectator seems to have shared 
the same opinion. The author of "A Treatise on Seeond-Sif/Jit, Dreams, and 
Apparitions," a Highland clergyman, I believe, named Macleod, but writing 
under the signature of TJieophilus Tnsidanits, says, — 

"What made me inquire more narrowly into the subject, was in conse- 
quence of a conversation I had with Sir Richard Steele, who engaged me 
to search for instances of it well attested." — Treatise on Second-Sight, &c., 
Edinburgh, 1763, p. 97. 


facts, and then to build upon them -, not to erect on the 
sand of preconception hazarded theories of our own, 
which Science, in her onward march, may assault and 
overthrow, as did the s^^stem of Galileo the theology 
of the Roman inquisitors.* 

As little defensible is it, in case we should happen in 
search of its proofs to come upon the testimony of the 
humble and the unlettered, that we refuse audience to 
any well-attested fact because we may not consider its 
origin sufficientl}^ reputable. We may learn from all 
classes. "We shall find truth in every rank. Things 
that escaj)e the rej)uted wise and prudent may be 
perceived by those who in technical knowledge are 
but children in comparison. Mere learning does not 

•■' Taylor has a passage on this subject well deserving our notice. Speak- 
ing of the belief in " occasional interferences of the dead with the living," 
which, he says, *' ought not to be summarily dismissed as a mere fully of 
the vulgar," he adds : — 

" In considering questions of this sort, we ought not to listen, for a 
moment, to those frequent but impertinent questions that are brought for- 
ward with a view of superseding the inquiry; such, for example, as these : 
— 'What good is answered by the alleged extra-natural occurrences?' or, 
* Is it worthy of the Supreme Wisdom to permit them?' and so forth. The 
question is a question, first, of testimom/, to be judged of on the established 
principles of evidence, and then of physiology; but neither of theology 
nor of morals. Some few human beings are wont to walk in their sleep; 
and during the continuance of profound slumber they perform, with pre- 
cision and safety, the offices of common life, and return to their beds, and 
yet are totally unconscious when they awake of what they have done. 
Now, in considering this or any such extraordinary class of facts, our busi- 
ness is, in the first place, to obtain a number of instances supported by the 
distinct and unimpeachable testimony of intelligent witnesses ; and then, 
being thus in possession of the facts, to adjust them, as well as we can, to 
other parts of our philosophy of human nature. Shall we allow an 
objector to put a check to our scientific curiosity on the subject, for in- 
stance, of somnambulism, by saying, ' Scores of these accounts have turned 
out to be exaggerated or totally untrue,' or, ' This walking in the sleep 
ought not to be thought possible, or as likely to be permitted by the 
Benevolent Guardian of human welfare' ?" — Physical Theory of Another 
Life, p. 27. 


always enlighten : it may but distort and obscure. 
That is a shrewd touch of satire, often applicable in 
practical life, which Goethe puts in the mouth of him 
of the Iron Hand, stout '^ Goiz of Berlichingen." 
When his little son, after repeating his well-conned 
lesson in geography about the village and castle of Jaxt- 
hausen, — the Berlichingen family-seat, on the banks of 
the river Jaxt, — could not reply to his parent's ques- 
tion as to what castle he was talking about, the old 
warrior exclaims, " Poor child ! he knows not, for very 
learning, his own father's house V 

The majority of educated men set aside, with little 
thought or scruple, all stories of haunted houses, all nar- 
ratives of apparitions, all allegations touching prophetic 
or clear-sighted dreams, and similar pretensions, as the 
ignoble offshoots of vulgar superstition. Yet there has 
been of late a reaction in this matter. Here and there 
we come upon indications of this. It is within my know- 
ledge, that a few years since, at one of the chief English 
universities, a society was formed out of some of its most 
distinguished members, for the purpose of instituting, 
as their printed circular expresses it, "a serious and 
earnest inquiry into the nature of the phenomena 
which are vaguely called supernatural." They sub- 
jected these to careful classification, and appealed to 
their friends outside of the society to aid them in 
forming an extensive collection of authenticated cases, 
as well of remarkable dreams as of apparitions, 
w^hether of pei'sons living or of the deceased ; the use 
to be made of these to be a subject for future con- 

* The society referred to was formed in the latter part of the year 1851, 
at Cambridge, by certain members of the University, some of them now 
at the head of well-known institutions, most of them clergymen and fellows 
of Trinity College, and almost all of them men who had graduated with 
the highest honors. The names of the more active among them were kindly 


It is to be conceded, however, that examples such as 
these, significant though they be, are but exceptions. 
The rule is to treat all alleged evidences for dream-re- 
vealings, or for the objective character of apparitions, or 
for the reality of those disturbances that go by the name 
of hauntino-s, as due either to accidental coincidence, to 
disease, to delusion, or to willful deception. One of the 
objects of the present volume is to inquire whether in 
so doing we are overlooking any actual phenomena. 

Beyond this, upon a cognate subject, I do not propose 
to enter. I am not, in this work, about to investigate 
what goes by the name of spiritual manifestations, — such 
as table-moving, rapping, mediumship, and the like. As 
the geologist prefers first to inspect the rock in situ, so 

furnished to me by the son of a British peer, himself one of the leading 
members. To him, also, I am indebted for a copy of the printed circular 
of the society, an able and temperate document, which will be found at 
length in the Appendix, {JS^'ote A.) The same gentleman informed me 
that the researches of the society had resulted in a conviction, shared, he 
believed, by all its members, that there is sufficient testimony for the ap- 
pearance, about the time of death or after it, of the apparitions of deceased 
persons; while in regard to other classes of apparitions the evidence, so 
far as obtained, was deemed too slight to prove their reality. 

To a gentleman who had been one of the more active members of the 

society, the Rev. Mr. W , I wrote, giving him the title of the present 

work, and stating in general terms the spirit and manner in which I pro- 
posed to write it. In his reply he says, " I wish that I were able to make 
any contribution to your proposed work at all commensurate with the in- 
terest which I feel in the subject of it." . ..." I rejoice extremely to 
learn that the subject is likely to receive a calm and philosophic treatment. 
This, at least, it demands; and, for my own part, I feel little doubt that 
great good will result from the publication of the work which you are pre- 
paring. My own experience has led me to form a conclusion similar to 
that which you express, — that the possibility of supramundane interference 
is a question which is gradually attracting more and more attention, espe- 
cially with men of education. This circumstance makes me the more 
anxious that a selection of facts should be fairly laid before them." 

The society, popularly known as the *' Ghost Club," attracted a good deal 
of attention outside its own circle. Its nature and objects first came to my 
knowledge through the Bishop of , who took an interest in its proceed- 
ings and bestirred himself to obtain contributions to its records. 


I think it best^ at this time and in this connection, to 
examine the sponfarieous phenomena, rather than those 
which are evoked; the phenomena which seem to come 
unsought, or, as we usually phrase it, by the visitation 
of God, rather than those which appear to be called up 
through the deliberate efforts of man. I have studied 
the former much more carefully than the latter; and 
space would fail me in a single volume to dispose of 

But, if I had space, and felt competent to the task, it 
should not deter me that the subject is still in bad odor 
and sometimes in graceless hands. I well know it to 
be the fashion — and a very reprehensible fashion it is — 
to pass by with ridicule or contempt the extraordinary 
results which seem to present themselves in this connec- 
tion. Be the facts as they may, such a course is im- 
politic and unwise. It is not by despising error that we 
correct it. No sensible man well informed as to the 
facts denies that, like every other subject professing to 
reach beyond the grave, this has its fanatics, misled by 
fantasies, dealing in vagaries of the imagination. But 
we are not justified in summarily setting aside, untested, 
any class of allegations because we may have detected 
among their supporters loose observation and false logic. 
Eational opinions may be irrationally defended. A 
creed may be true though some of its advocates can 
give no sufficient reason for the faith that is in them. 
Origanus, the astronomical instructor of Wallenstein's 
famous attendant, Seni, was one of the earliest defenders 
of the Copernican system; yet his arguments to prove 
the eartVs motion are quite on a par, as to the absurdity 
of their character, with those advanced on the oj)posite 
side in favor of its immobility. 

There is, then, nothing conclusive in it, that the in- 
vestigator of such a subject is met with a thousand 
exaggerations. It does not settle the question, that at 


every step we detect errors and absurdities. The main 
problem lies deeper than these. " There are errors," 
says Coleridge, " which no wise man will treat with 
rudeness while there is a probability that they may be 
the refraction of some great truth as yet below the 
horizon."* And he must be a skeptic past saving who 
has critically examined the phenomena in question with- 
out reaching the conclusion that, how inaccurately soever 
they may have been interpreted until now, our best 
powers of reason are worthily taxed to determine their 
exact character. 

Some wonders there are, in this connection, opening 
to human view. They may be purely scientific in their 
bearings, but, if so, none the less well deserving a place 
beside the marvels of electricity in its various phases. 
JSTor, even if they finally prove to be phenomena exclu- 
sively physical, should those, meanwhile, be browbeat 
or discouraged who seek to detect therein ultramundane 
agencies. There are researches in which, if no pains 
and industry be spared, honestly to fail is as reputable 
as to succeed in others. And some of the most important 
discoveries have been made during a search after the 
impossible. Muschenbroeck stumbled upon the invention 
of the Leyden jar while endeavoring, it is said, to collect 
and confine Thales's electric effluvium. 

Moralists and statesmen, too, should bear in mind that 
they have here to deal with an element which already 
seriously influences human opinion. The phenomena 
sometimes called spiritual, whether genuine or spurious, 
have attracted the attention, and won more or less of 
the belief, not of thousands only, — of millions, already.f 

* In his first "Lay Sermon." 

■f My friend William Howitt, the well-known author, who, with his 
amiable wife, has devoted much time and thought to this subject, says, in a 
recent reply to the Eev. Edward White's discourses, delivered in St. Paul's 
Chapel, Kentish Town, in October, November, and December, 1858, 


And if these astoimding novelties are permitted to spread 
among us without chart or compass whereby to steer 

"Spiritualism is said to have convinced three millions of people in America 
alone. In Europe, I believe, there are not less than another million ; and 
the rapidity with which it is diffusing itself through all ranks and classes, 
literally from the highest to the lowest, should set men thinking. It would 
startle some people to discover in how many royal palaces in Europe it is 
firmly seated, and with what vigor it is diffusing itself through all ranks 
and professions of men, who do not care to make much noise about it; men 
and women of literary, religious, and scientific fame." 

I have not the means of judging as to the accuracy of Mr. Howitt's total 
estimate. It must necessarily be an uncertain one. But as to the latter 
portion of that gentleman's remarks, I can indorse it from personal know- 
ledge. I found, in Europe, interested and earnest inquirers into this subject 
in every rank, from royalty downward; princes, and other nobles, statesmen, 
diplomatists, ofl&cers in the army and navy, learned professors, authors, 
lawyers, merchants, private gentlemen, fashionable ladies, domestic mothers 
of families. Most of these, it is true, prosecute their investigations in pri- 
vate, and disclose their opinions only to intimate or sympathizing friends. 
But none the less does this class of opinions spread, and the circle daily 
enlarge that receives them. 

If further evidence of these allegations, so far as they relate to England, 
be required, it is to be found in a late number of a well-known London 
Quarterly, than which it would be difficult to name a periodical more opposed 
to this movement. In the Westminster Review for January, 1858, in an 
elaborate article devoted to the subject, the writer says, " We should be in 
much error if we suppose that table-turning, or that group of asserted phe- 
nomena which in this country is embodied under that name, and which in 
America assumes the loftier title of Spiritualism, in ceasing to occupy the 
attention of the public generally, has also ceased to occupy the attention of 
every part of it. The fact is very much otherwise. Our readers would be 
astonished were we to lay before them the names of several of those who 
are unflinching believers in it, or who are devoting themselves to the study 
or reproduction of its marvels. Not only does it survive, but survives with 
all the charm and all the stimulating attractiveness of a secret science. 
Until the public mind in England shall be prepared to receive it, or until 
the evidence shall be put in a shape to enforce general conviction, the pre- 
sent policy is to nurse it in quiet and enlarge the circle of its influence by 
a system of noiseless extension. Whether this policy will be successful 
remains to be seen ,• but there can be no doubt that, should ever the time 
arrive for the revival of this movement, the persons at its head would be 
men and women whose intellectual qualifications are known to the public 
and who possess its confidence and esteem." — p. 32. 



our course through an unexplored ocean of mystery, we 
may find ourselves at the mercy of ver}^ sinister in- 

Among the communications heretofore commonly ob- 
tained, alleged to be ultramundane, are many which 
seem to justify that old saying of Pythagoras: "It is 
not out of every log of wood that a Mercury can be 
made.'^ Whether coming to us from another world or 
from this, not a few of them contain a large mingling 
of falsehood with truth, and a mass of puerilities alter- 
nating with reason. At times they disclose evil passions; 
occasionally they are characterized by profanity; and 
some of them, even where no fraud or conscious agency 
is presumable, exhibit unmistakable evidence of a mun- 
dane origin or influence; as all candid, sensible advo- 
cates of the spiritual theory, after sufficient experience, 
freely admit.* 

••- De Ga?parin considers it a conclusive argument against the spiritual 
theory, that 'Hhe particular opinions of each medium may be recognized in 
the dogmas he promulgates in the name of the spirits." ("Des Tables Tonr- 
nantes, du Surnatnrel en General, et des Esprits," par le Comte Ag6nor de 
Gasparin, Paris, 1855, vol. ii. p. 497.) He is only partially accurate as to 
the fact. It is the questioner as often perhaps as the medium who receives 
back his own opinions. But this is only sometimes true of either. It is, 
however, beyond all doubt, sometimes true; and the fact, however explained, 
points, with many others, to the urgent necessity, on the part of those who 
adopt the spiritual hypothesis, of receiving with the utmost care, and only 
after the strictest scrutiny, any communications, no matter what their pre- 

Until Spiritualists take such precautions, — until they sit in judgment on 
what they receive, and separate the chaff from the wheat, — they cannot 
reasonably complain if the majority of intelligent men reject all because a 
part is clearly worthless. Nor, meanwhile, though a witty squib prove 
nothing, can the point be denied of that which Saxe launches against some 
alleged spirit communicators of our modern day : — 
"If in your new estate you cannot rest. 
But must return, oh, grant us this request: 
Come with a noble and celestial air. 
And prove your titles to the names you bear; 


Hence, under any hypothesis, great danger to the 
weak-minded and the over-credulous. 

This danger is the greater, because men are wont to 
take it for granted that, when we shall have demon- 
strated (if we can demonstrate) the spiritual character 
of a communication, there needs no further demonstra- 
tion as to the truth of the facts alleged and the opinions 
expressed therein. 

This is a very illogical conclusion, though distin- 
o-uished men have sometimes arrived at it.* It is one 
thing to determine the ultramundane origin of a com- 
munication, and quite another to prove its infallibility, 
even its authenticity. Indeed, there are more plausible 
reasons than many imagine for the opinion entertained by 
some able men, Protestants as well as Catholics,-}- that the 

Give some clear token of your heavenly birtli; 

Write as good English as you wrote on earth: 

And, what were once superfluous to advise, 

Don't tell, I beg you, such egregious lies." 
* See, for an example, "Experimental Examination of the Spirit Ifam- 
festations," by Robert Hare, M.D., Emeritus Professor of Chemistry in the 
University of Pennsylvania, 4th ed., 1856, pp. 14, 15. When the venerable 
author obtained, as he expressed it, "the sanction of the spirits under test 
conditions," that is, by means most ingeniously contrived by him to prevent 
human deception, or (again to use his own words) "so that it was utterly 
out of the power of any mortal to pervert the result from being a pure ema- 
nation from the spirits whose names were given," he received as authentic, 
without further doubt or question, certain extraordinary credentials pur- 
porting to come from another world. Professor Hare is now himself a 
denizen of that world where honest errors find correction, and where to 
uprightness is meted out its reward. 

I As by the Rev. Charles Beecher, in his "Review of Spiritual Manifesta- 
tiona," chap, vii., where will be found the quotation given in the text. 

De Mirville ("Des Esprits et de leurs 3fanifestation8 fuidiqnes" par le 
Marquis de Mirville, Paris, 3d ed., 1854) is the ablest modern exponent of 
the Catholic doctrine of Demonology. The 4th edition of his work, so his 
publishers inform me, is (May, 1859) nearly exhausted. The Church of 
Rome, it is well known, recognizes the doctrine of possession by evil spirits 
as an article of faith :— " Quod daemon corpora hominum possidere et olai- 
dere possit, certuai de fide est"— Theologia Jfi/stica, ad tisiim Directorian 


communications in question come from the Powers of 
Darkness, and that ^'we are entering on the first stejDS 
of a career of demoniac manifestation, the issues whereof 
man cannot conjecture/^ But I see no just cause what- 
ever for such an opinion. The reasons for this revival 
of an antiquated belief seem to me plausible only. God 
has suffered evil to exist in this world; yet we do not, 
for that reason, conclude that hell reigns upon earth. 
We reflect that perhaps through this very antagonism 
may lie the path of progress. Or, at least, we weigh 
the good against the evil, and believe in the beneficence 
of the Creator. But His power is not limited to this 
side the grave. And if He does permit communication 
from the other side, is it in accordance with His attri- 
butes that such communication should resolve itself into 
mere demoniac obsession? 

The reasons for a belief so gloomy and discouraging 
appear to me mainly to rest, among Protestants at 
least, upon an error of very mischievous influence, and 
to which, in a subsequent chapter, on the Change at 
Death, 1 shall have occasion to advert at large. I allude 
to the opinion, held by many, that the character of man 
undergoes, after death, a sudden transformation; and 
that the peculiarities and prejudices which distinguish 
the individual in this world do not pass with him into 
another. If they do, the motley character of commu- 
nications thence obtained (if such communications there 
be) can excite no surprise. It is precisely what we 
may reasonably expect. God permits that from our 
many-charactered fellow-creatures of this world min- 
gled truth and falsehood shall reach us : why not also 

Animarum, Paris, 1848, vol. i. p. 376. The Roman Ritual {Cap. De exor- 
cizandis obsesfiis a dsemonio) supplies, in detail, the rules for exorcising the 
Demon; and, in point of fact, exorcisms, at Rome and elsewhere through- 
out Catholic countries, are at this time of daily occurrence, though usually 
conducted in private, and little spoken of outside the pale of the Church. 


from our fellow-creatures of another world, if the same 
variety of feeling and opinion prevail there? We are 
constantly called upon, by the exercise of our reason, 
to separate the genuine from the S2:)urious in the one 
case. Where do we find warrant for the opinion that 
we are released from such a duty in the other? Lest 
we should imagine that, when we are commanded to 
prove all things, the injunction relates to mundane 
agencies only, an express text is added, declaring that 
spirits also must be tested. "^^ 

A world in which men should be exonerated from the 
duty, or forbidden the right, to bring the judgment into 
play, — to sift, by the strict dictates of conscience, good 
from evil, the right from the wrong, — would be a world 
disgraced and degraded. If such a principle were fully 
carried out, it would at last become a world lacking not 
only the exercise of reason, but reason itself Use, to 
an extent which it is difficult to determine, is essential 
to continued existence. That which ceases to fulfill its 
purpose finally ceases to be. The eyes of fishes found 
far in the interior of the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky', 
shut out forever from the light of day, are rudimental 

But it is not conceivable that, under the Divine Eco- 
nomy, an order of things should ever be permitted, in 
which man should be shorn of his noblest attribute; 
that which, more than any other, stamps his su2:)eriority, 

"'•• 1 John iv. 1. 

•f This fact has been verified by dissection. The fish in question (the 
only known species of the genus Amhlyojjsis Spelmts) is, however, I believe, 
found only in similar localities. Xoris it certain that this fish is without 
the power to distinguish light from darkness; for the optic lobe remains. 
Drs. Telkampf, of New York, and Wyman, of Boston, have published 
papers on the subject. 

It would be an interesting experiment to bring some of these fishes to 

the light, and ascertain whether, in the course of generations, their eyes 

would gradually become perfect. 



on this earth, over the lower animal races which share 
with him its occupation and its enjoyments. Human 
reason is the appointed pilot of human civilization -, fal- 
lible, indeed, like any other steersman, but yet essential 
to progress and to safety. That pilot once dismissed 
from the helm, the bark will drift at random, aban- 
doned to the vagrant influence of every chance current 
or passing breeze. 

Let us conceive a case in illustration. Let us suppose 
that, from some undeniably spiritual source, as through 
speech of an apparition, or by a voice sounding from 
the upper air, there should come to us the injunction to 
adopt the principle of polygamy, either as that system 
is legally recognized in Turkey, or in its unavowed form, 
as it appears in the great cities of the civilized world. 
In such a case, what is to be done? The world is God's 
work. The experience of the world is God's voice. Are 
we to set aside that experience, proclaiming to us, as it 
does, that under the principle of monogamy alone have 
man's physical powers and moral attributes ever main- 
tained their ascendency, while weakness and national 
decadence follow in the train of polygamy, whether 
openly carried out, as in Deseret and Constantinople, or 
secretly practiced, as in London and ISTew York? Are 
we to give up the certain for the uncertain ? — the teach- 
ings of God, through His works, for the biddings of we 
know not whom? 

The folly and danger of so doing are apparent. Inti- 
mations from another world (supposing their reality) 
may be useful; they may be highly suggestive; they 
may supply invaluable materials for thought: just as 
the opinions of some wise man or the advice of some 
judicious friend, here upon earth, might do. But no 
opinion, no advice, from friend or stranger, ought to be 
received as infalKble, or accepted as a rule of action, 
until Reason shall have sat in judgment upon it and 


decided; to the best of her ability, its truth and 

There exist not, nor can arise, any circumstances 
whatever that shall justify the reception by man, as in- 
fallible and mandatory, of any such communication. 
Let us suppose the extreme case. Let us imagine that, 
from some intelligence clearly ultramundane, there 
should come to us a certain communication which, 
fairly tested by reason, we decide to exceed, in depth 
and wisdom, any thing which tliat reason unaided could 
originate. Are we, because of the evident excellence 
of that communication, to receive with unquestioning 
acquiescence all its fellow^s coming apparently from the 
same source? In the chapter on Sleep cases will bo 
adduced in proof that our intellectual powers during 
sleep sometimes surpass any waking effort. Yet what 
rational man w^ould thence infer that we ought to be 
governed by our dreams? 

If I have dwelt at length, and insisted with some 
iteration, on this matter, it is because of the wide- 
spread mischief to which, in this connection, blindly 
assenting credulity has, in these later times especially, 
given rise; it is because of the urgent necessity for judg- 
ment to discriminate, for caution to scrutinize. But 
the necessity is as urgent to bear in mind, that judg- 
ment and caution are the very opposites of proscrip- 
tion and prejudice. On the supposition that spirits do 
actually communicate, if those who ought to give tone 
and direction to public opinion content themselves w^th 
arrogantly denouncing the whole as a portentous im- 
posture, they lose all power or opportunity to regulate 
a reality of which they deny the existence."^' And in 

* Dining, in February, 1859, -witli a wealthy and well-known London 
capitalist, and sitting at table next to the lady of the house, she broached 
the subject of Spiritualism. I asked her if she had seen any of its alleged 
phenomena. She replied that she had not ; that, from what she had heard, 


the case here supposed, our moral and religious guides 
risk the loss of influence and position by putting aside 
an all-important inquiry, — a contingency which as a 
body they appear to have overlooked. 

The claims of the subject to the notice of the clergy 
and of other public teachers are not founded alone upon 
the fact that this heresy (if heresy it be) has penetrated 
to every rank and class of society, and now influences, 
more or less, the opinions and the conduct of millions 
throughout the civilized world. These claims reach 
farther still. They derive from the necessity of the 
case. The question as to investigation or no investiga- 
tion is one of time only. Once mooted and seized upon 
by popular sympathy, a matter like this must be probed 

she was convinced there was some reality in it; but, being of a nervous 
temperament, and not assured of her own self-control, she had refrained 
from examining its manifestations. '' Then I know," she added, " that it 
has done so much harm. Has it not ?" (appealing to a gentleman sitting 
near us.) He assented in strong terms. I begged him to give me an ex- 
ample. " I could give you many," he replied, " in the circle of my ac- 
quaintance; but one in particular occurs to me. The daughter of a friend 
of mine, in a family of the utmost respectability, and herself amiable and 
intelligent, is, at this very time, quite carried away with its delusions. She 
had raps from the table, and is in the habit of shutting herself up, day 
after day, in the garret of her father's house, spelling out communications 
which she imagines to come from departed spirits. She will not even take 
the exercise necessary to her health ; alleging that while she is gone she 
may lose the chance of receiving some divine message. The remonstrances 
of her parents, who are not at all affected with the mania, are unavailing; 
and it causes them much grief." 

Let us put what interpretation we may i;pon that which has been called 
the spirit-rap and the communications thus obtained, it is evident that 
such a case as the above savors of fanaticism and urgently demands regu- 
lation. No condition of mind can be healthy — scarcely sane — which with- 
draws all thoughts from the duties of earthly life, even from the care of 
bodily health, and suffers them to be wholly engrossed by such communica- 
tions; above all, when these are received, unquestioned, as divine and in- 
fallible revelation. 

But to deny actual phenomena is not the proper mode to win over a mis- 
led or diseased mind. 


to the bottom. There is nothing else for it. We can 
get rid of it on no other terms. We cannot hush it up 
if we would; we ought not if we could. Viewed in its 
scientific aspect, we might as reasonably interdict the 
study of electricity or the employment of the magnetic 
wires. And as regards its spiritual pretensions, either 
these are a perilous delusion, to be detected and exploded, 
as by carefully prosecuted researches every delusion can 
be, or else a reality important beyond any that crosses 
our daily path. If they be a delusion, leading astray 
the flock^ on whom so strictly as on its pastor devolves 
the taslwof exposure? — but of exposure after investiga- 
tion; since, in the words of a wise man of old, "He 
that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly 
and shame unto him.""^ If, on the other hand, it should 
prove to be a reality, how grave their responsibility who 
blindly oppose it! In such a case, research on the part 
of public teachers rises to the rank of a sacred duty, lest, 
haply, like the unbelievers of Gamaliel's day, they be 
found fighting against God. 

And this duty is bounden the rather because of a 
great difiiculty, suggested by the narratives forming the 
staple of this volume, which necessarily attends the 
policy of non-investigation. There is the question, how 
far we are to cany out that policy. Men, during the 
last ten years, and in our country especially, have, in 
this connection, had their attention mainly directed to 
what, in one sense, may be called the artificial phase of 
the subject. They have been chiefly occupied in exa- 
mining phenomena which occur as the result of express 
intention and calculated micthod; which are elicited, not 
merely witnessed : such as the manifestations which come 
to light through what is called mediumship, in spiritual 
circles, through writing by impression, during artificial 

* Proverbs xviii. 13. 


somnambulism, and the like. These constitute but a 
small fraction of a great subject. Thej have for the 
most part been called forth during a few years only ; 
while the vast mass of phenomena evidently allied to 
them, but purely spontaneous in their character, are 
spread over ages and come to us through all past his- 
tory. These latter present themselves not merely un- 
expected, not unsought only, but often unwished for, de- 
precated, occasionally even in spite of entreaty and 
prayer. Often, indeed, they assume the character of 
ministration by spirits loving and gentle ; but at other 
times they put on the semblance of persecution, retri- 
butive and terrible.* The former appear to bear out 
the doctrine of celestial guardianship, while the latter 
seem sent by God as he sends on the material world the 
hurricane and the earthquake. But both are indepen- 
dent of man's will or agency. They come as the rain 
falls or as the lightning flashes. 

This complicates the case. We may condemn as 
Pytliouism, or denounce as unlawful necromanc}^, the 
seeking after spiritual phenomena. f But in so doing 
we dispose of a small branch of the subject only. How 
are we to deal with ultramundane manifestations, in case 
it should prove that they do often occur not only with- 
out our agency but in spite of our adjuration ? Grant 
that it were unwise, even sinful, to go in search of 
spiritual intervention : what are we to say of it if it 
overcome us sudden and 'unsolicited, and, whether for 

*■ See, as an esamplo of the former, the narrative entitled ''The rejected 
Suitor," and, as a specimen of the latter, that called " What an English 
Officer suffered :" both given in subsequent chapters of this work. 

f In the records of the past we come, from time to time, upon proof that 
men have been disposed to regard that which they imperfectly understood 
as savoring of unhallowed mystery. In Chaucer's tale of the Chanon 
Ycnian, chemistry is spoken of as an elfish art; that is, taught or conducted 
by spirits. This, Warton says, is an Arabian idea. See "Warton's His- 
tory of English Poetry" vol. i. p. 169. 


good or for evil, a commissioned intruder on our earthly- 
path ? Under that phase also (if under such it be found 
really to present itself) are we to ignore its existence ? 
Ought we, without any inquiry into the character of its 
influence, to prejudge and to repulse it? Let it assume 
what form it may, are we still, like the Princess Parizade 
of the Arabian tale, to stop our ears with cotton against 
the voices around us ? 

The abstract right to investigate the broad question 
as to the reality of ultramundane interference will not, 
in these United States, be seriously questioned. There 
never was a period in the world's history when human 
tyranny could close, except for a season, the avenue to 
any department of knowledge which the Creator has 
placed within the reach of man ; least of all, one involv- 
ing interests so vital as this. Nor is there any country 
in the civilized world where the attemj)t could be made 
with less chance of success than in ours. 

Many, however, who concede the right deem its exer- 
cise to be fraught with danger to human welfare and 
happiness. Some danger, beyond question, there is. 
What thing in nature is one-sided ? Which of our 
studies may not be injudiciously undertaken or im- 
prudently pursued ? Something, in all human endea- 
vors, we must risk; and that risk is the greatest, 
usually, for the most important objects. Eeligious re- 
searches involve more risk than secular : they demand, 
therefore, greater caution and a more dispassionate 
spirit. Are we to avoid them for that reason? Would 
their interdiction subserve man's welfare and happiness ? 

That theory of the solar system which is now ad- 
mitted by every astronomer and taught to every school- 
boy was once alleged to be fraught with danger to the 
welfare and happiness of mankind, and its author was 
compelled on his knees to pledge his oath that he would 
never more propagate it, by word or writing. Yet what 


scientific hypothesis do men at the present day scruple 
to examine ? And, if scientific, why not spiritual also ? 
Are we prepared to trust our reason in the one case but 
reject its conclusions in the other? — to declare of that 
noble faculty, as a German caviler did of the telescope 
which first revealed to human sight the satellites of 
Jupiter, that " it does wonders on the earth, but falsely 
represents celestial objects'^ ? * 

Let us take courage, and trust to the senses God has 
given us. There is no safety in cowardice, no expe- 
diency, even if there were possibility^, in evasion. If to 
the investigation of these matters we must come 
sooner or later, it is the part of wisdom and manliness 
to undertake it at once. 

A large portion of the periodicals of the day have 
hitherto either wholly ignored the subject of ultramun- 
dane interference, or else passed it by with superficial 
and disparaging notice. After a time there will be a 
change in this.f The subject is gradually attaining 

•■•• Martin Korky, in one of the "Kepleri Epistolee." He it was who de- 
clared to his master Kepler, "I will never concede his four planets to that 
Italian from Padua, though I die for it," and of whom, when he afterward 
begged to be forgiv^en for his presumptuous skepticism, Kepler wrote to 
Galileo, "I have taken him again into favor upon this express condition, 
to which he has agreed, that I am to show him Jupiter's satellites, and he 
is to see tJiem and own that they are there." 

There are a good many Martin Korkys of the present day, with whom, 
as to some of the phenomena to be noticed in this volume, the same agree- 
ment should be made. 

■j" Respectable periodicals, untinctured by peculiarities of opinion, have 
already begun to treat the general subject with more deference than for- 
merly. For example, in a long article, entitled " Ghosts of the Old and 
New School," in one of the London Quarterlies, while the chief phenomena 
called spiritual are discredited, there occur such admissions as the follow- 
ing: — "There are sets of facts that demand a more searching and perse- 
vering investigation than they have yet received, — either that they may be 
finally disposed of as false, or reduced to scientific order. Such are the ap- 
pearance of ghosts, the power of second-sight, of clairvoyance, and other 


a breadth and importance and winning a degree of 
attention Avhich will be felt by the better portion of the 
press as entitling it to that respectful notice which is 
the due of a reputable opponent. And surely this is as 
it should be. Let the facts be as they may, the duty of 
the press and of the pulpit is best fulfilled, and the 
dangers incident to the subject are best averted, by 
promoting, not discouraging, inquiry;''' but inquiry, 
thorough, searching, sedulously accurate, and in the 
strictest sense of the term impartial. 

The first requisite in him who undertakes such an in- 
vestigation — more important, even, than scientific train- 
ing to accurate research — is that he shall approach it 
unbiased and unpledged, bringing with him no favorite 
theory to be built up, no preconceived opinions to be 
gratified or offended, not a wish that the results should 
be found to be of this character or of that character, 
but a single, earnest desire to discover of icJiat character 
they are. 

To what extent I bring to the task such qualifications, 
they who may read these pages can best decide. ISTo 
man is an impartial judge of his own impartiality. I 
distrust mine. I am conscious of a disturbing element; 
a leaning in my mind, aside from the simple wish to 
detect what really is. 'Not that on the strictest self- 
scrutiny I can accuse myself of a desire to foist into 
such an inquiry any preconceptions, scientific or theolo- 

phenomena of magnetism and mesmerism; the nature of sleep and dreams, 
of spectral illusions, (in themselves a decisive proof that the sense of sight 
may be fully experienced independently of the eye ;) the limits and work- 
ing of mental delusion and enthusiastic excitement." — Xational Review for 
July, 1858, p. 13. 

* " Eclairons-nous sur les verites, quelles qu'elles soient, qui se presenteut 
£l notre observation ; et loin de craindre de favoriser la superstition en ad- 
mettant de nouveaux phenomenes, quand ils sont bien prouves, soyons 
persuades que le seul moyen d'empecher les abus qu'on pent en faire, c'est 
d'en r^pandre la connaissance." — Bertraxd. 
D 5 


gical, nor yet of the least unwillingness to accept or to 
surrender any opinions, orthodox or heterodox, which 
the progress of that inquiry might establish or disprove. 
Not tliat. But I am conscious of a feeling that has 
acquired strength within me as these researches pro- 
gressed; a desire other than the mere readiness to 
insj^ect with dispassionate equanimity the phenomena 
as they appeared; an earnest hope, namely, that these 
might result in furnishing to the evidence of the soul's 
independent existence and immortality a contribution 
drawn from a source where such proof has seldom, until 
recently, been sought. 

Against the leaning incident to that hope, interwoven 
with man's nature as it is, the explorer of such a field 
as this should be especially on his guard. It is one 
of the many difficulties with which the undertaking is 
beset. " It is easy," truly said Bonnet, the learned 
Genevese, — ^^ it is easy and agreeable to believe; to 
doubt requires an unpleasant effort.'' And the pro- 
clivity to conclude on insufficient evidence is the 
greater when we are in search of what we strongly 
wish to find. Our longings overhurry our judgments. 
But what so earnestly to be desired as the assurance 
that death, the much dreaded, is a friend instead of an 
enemy, opening to us, when the dark curtain closes 
on earthly scenes, the portals of a better and happier 
existence ? 

It is a common opinion that the all-sufficient and 
only proper source whence to derive that conviction is 
sacred history. 

But, how strongly soever we may affirm that the 
Scripture proofs of the soul's immortality ought to com- 
mand the belief of all mankind, the fact remains that 
they do not.* Some rest unbelievers; many more carry 

* The number of materialists throughout the educated portion of civilized 


about with thorn, as to the soul's future destiDy, a faith 
inanimate and barren ; and, even among those who pro- 
fess the most, the creed of the greater number may be 
summed up in the exclamation, " Lord, 1 beheve : help 
Thou mine unbelief!"* 

Since, then, no complaint is more common from the 
pulpit itself than of the world-wide discrepancy daily to 
be found, even among the most zealously pious, between 
faith and practice, may we not trace much of that 
discrepancy to the feeble grade of credence, so far below 
the living conviction which our senses bring home to 
us of earthly things, which often makes up this wavering 
faith ?t 

society, especially in Europe, is much greater than on the surface it would 
appear. If one broaches serious subjects, this fact betrays itself. I was 
conversing one day with a French lady of rank, intelligent and thoughtful 
beyond the average of her class, and happened to express the opinion that 
progression is probably a law of the next world, as of this. " You really 
believe, then, in another world?" she asked. 

" Certainly, Madame la Comtesse." 

" Ah ! you are a fortunate man," she replied, with some emotion. " How 
many of us do not !" 

*• We shall often find, in the expressions employed by distinguished men 
(especially the leaders in science) to express their sense of the importance 
of a firm religious belief, rather a desire to obtain it, and envy of those who 
possess it, than an assertion that they themselves have found all they 
sought. Here is an eloquent example : — 

"I envy no qualities of the mind and intellect in others, — nor genius, nor 
power, nor wit, nor fancy; but if I could choose what would be most de- 
lightful and, I believe, most useful to me, I should prefer a firm religious 
belief to every other blessing. For it makes life a discipline of goodness, 
creates new hopes when all earthly hopes vanish, and throws over the 
decay, the destruction, of existence, the most gorgeous of all lights; 
awakens life in death, and calls out from corruption and decay beauty 
and everlasting glory." — Sir Humphry Davy. 

f One among a thousand illustrations of this discrepancy is to be found 
in the bitter anguish — the grief refusing to be comforted — with which sur- 
vivors often bewail the dead ; a grief infinitely more poignant than that 
with which they would see them embark for another hemisphere, if it were 
even without expectation of their return and with no certainty of their 


It is important also to distinguish among those who 
go by the general name of unbelievers. Of these, a 
few deny that man has an immortal soul; others allege 
that they have as yet found no conclusive proof of the 
soul's ultramundane existence: and the latter are much 
more numerous than the former. 

The difference between the two is great. The creed 
of the one may be taxed with presumption, of the other 
with insufficiency only. The one profess already to 
have reached the goal; the others declare that they are 
still on the road of inquiry. 

But as to these latter, any additional class of proofs 
we can find touching the nature of the soul are espe- 
cially important. Here we come upon the practical 
bearings of the question. For, while men are so 
diversely constituted and so variously trained as we find 
them, the same evidence will never convince all minds. 
And it is equally unchristian,* nnphilosophical, and 

happiness. If we do not forget, do we practically realize, that article of 
faith which teaches that it is only to us they die? The German idiomatic 
expression, in this connection, is as correct as it is beautiful : — 

" Den Oberlin hatte zuweilen die Ahnung wie ein kalter Schauer durch- 
druugen, dass sein geliebtes Weib ihm sterben konne." — "J)a8 grosse GeJieim- 
jiiss der menschlielien Doppelnatw," Dresden, 1855. 

* Matthew viL 1. It is quite contrary to the fact to assume as to skeptics 
in general that they are willfully blind. Many, it is true, especially in the 
heyday of youth, fall into unbelief, or an indifference much resembling it, 
from sheer heedlessness ; while some deliberately avoid the thoughts of 
another world, lest these should abridge their pleasures in this; but the 
better and probably the more numerous portion belong to neither of these 
classes. They scruple because difficulties are thrust upon them. They 
doubt unwillingly and -f)erforce. The author of the "Eclipse of Faith" 
(written in reply to Newman's "Phases of Faith") gives, as the confession 
of such a one, what is appropriate to hundreds of thousands : — 

" I have been rudely driven out of my old beliefs ; my early Christian 
faith has given way to doubt; the little hut on the mountain-side, in which 
I had thought to dwell with pastoral simplicity, has been shattered by the 
tempest, and I turned out to the blast without a shelter. I have wandered 
long and far, but have not found that rest which you tell me is to be ob- 


unjust to condemn one's neighbor, because the species 
of testimony which convinces us leaves him in doubt or 
disbelief. Shall we imagine a just God joining in such 
a condemnation? Or may we not, far more rationally, 
believe it probable that, in the progressive course of His 
economy, He may be providing for each class of minds 
that species of evidence which is best fitted for its pecu- 
liar nature ? 

A Paris physician of the highest standing. Dr. 
Georget, the well-known author of a Treatise on the 
Physiology of the Nervous System,* made his will on 
the 1st of March, 1826, dying shortly after. To that 
document a clause is appended, in which, after alluding 
to the fact that in the treatise above referred to he had 

tained. As I examine all other theories, they seem to me pressed by at 
least equal difficulties with that I have abandoned. I cannot make myself 
contented, as others do, with believing nothing; and yet I have nothing to 
believe. I have wrestled long and hard with my Titan foes, but not suc- 
cessfully. I have turned to every quarter of the universe in vain. I have 
interrogated my own soul, but it answers not. I have gazed upon nature, 
but its many voices speak no articulate language to me ; and, more espe- 
cially, when I gaze upon the bright page of the midnight heavens, those 
orbs gleam upon me with so cold a light and amidst so portentous a silence 
that I am, with Pascal, terrified at the spectacle of the infinite solitude." 
—p. 70. 

^' '* Da la PJiysiologie du Systhne Kerveuoc, et specialement du Cerveau." 
far M. Georget, D. M. de la Faculte de Paris, ancien Interne de premiere 
classe de la division des Alienees de I'Hospice de la Salpetriere: 2 vols., 
Paris, 1821. 

The original text of the clause in Georget's will, above quoted from, will 
be found in " Eaj)ports et Discussions de I'Academie Roy ale de 3Iedecine sur 
le Marjnetisme animal," by M. P. Foissac, M.D., Paris, 1833, p. 289. The 
exact words of his avowal are, *' A peine avais-je mis au jour la ' Physiologie 
du Systeme Nerveux,' que de nouvelles meditations sur un ph^nomene bicn 
extraordinaire, le somnambulisme, ne me permirent plus de douter de I'ex- 
istence, en nous et hors de nous, d'un principe intelligent, tout-a-fait dif- 
ferent des existences materielles." 

Husson, a member of the Paris Academy of Medicine, in a report to that 
body made in 1825, speaks of Georget as " notre estimable, laborieux, et 
modeste coUegue." — Foissac's Rapports et Discussions, p. 28. 



openly professed materialism, he says, " I had scarcely 
published the ' Physiologie du Systeme Nerveux/ when 
additional reflections on a very extraordinary phe- 
nomenon, somuiambulism, no longer allowed me to 
doubt of the existence, in us and out of us, of an intelli- 
gent princi^^le, diifering entirely from any material ex- 
istence.'^ He adds, ^' This declaration will see the 
light when my sincerity can no longer be doubted nor 
my intentions suspected." And he concludes by an 
earnest request, addressed to those who may be present 
at the opening of his will, that they will give to the 
declaration in question all the publicity possible. 

Thus we find an able man, living in a Christian coun- 
try, where he had access to all the usual evidences of 
our religion, who remains during the greater part of his 
life a materialist, and toward its close finds, in a 
psychological phenomenon, proof sufficient to produce 
a profound conviction that his life's belief had been an 
error, and that the soul of man has an immortal ex- 

The Bible had failed to convince him of his error. 
But ought not every believer in the soul's immortality 
to rejoice, that the unbelief which scrij)tural testimony 
had proved insufficient to conquer yielded before evi- 
dence drawn from examination of one of the many 
wonders, exhibited by what every one but the atheist 
declares to be the handiwork of God? 

And since that wonder belongs to a class of phenomena 
the reality of which is denied by many and doubted by 
more, should not every friend of religion bid God-speed 
the inquirer who pushes his researches into regions that 
have produced fruits so valuable as these? 

Nor is he a true friend to religion or to his race who 
does not desire that men should obtain the strongest 
possible evidence which exists of the soul's immortality, 
and the reality of a future life. But if there actually 


be physical evidence, cognizable by the senses, of these 
great truths, it is, and ever must be, stronger than any 
which can possibly result from scriptural testimony. 
Intelligent Christians, even the most orthodox, admit 
this; Tillotson, for example. It forms, indeed, the 
staple of his argument against the real ^presence. Says 
that learned prelate, "InjQdelity were hardly possible to 
men, if all men had the same evidence for the Chris- 
tian religion which they have against transubstan- 
tiationj that is, the clear and irresistible evidence of 

Scripture and common sense alike sustain this doc- 
trine; nay, our every-day language assumes its truth. 
If a friend, even the most trusted, relate to us some 
incident which he has witnessed, in what terms do we 
express our conviction that he has' told us the truth? 
Do we say, "I know his testimony^'? There is no such 
expression in the English language. We say, "I believe 
his testimony.'^-j- It is true that such evidence, subject, 
however, to cross-examination, decides, in a court of jus- 
tice, men's lives and fortunes ; but only from the neces- 
sity of the case ; only because the judges and jury could 
not themselves be eye or ear witnesses of the facts to 
be proved : and, with every care to scrutinize such testi- 
mony, it has ere now brought innocent men to the scaf- 
fold. Nor, save in extraordinary or exceptional cases, 

* " The Worh8 of the Ifost Reverend Br. John Tillotson, late Lord Arch- 
lishop of Canterhury," 8th ed., London, 1720. Sermon XXVI. 

f In the present volume I shall have occasion to testify as to many things 
which I have heard and seen. Nor do I imagine that men, themselves 
candid, will suspect in me lack of candor ; for when a man of honest motive, 
seeking only the truth, plainly and impartially narrates his experience, that 
which he says usually bears with it to the upright mind an internal war- 
rant of sincerity. But yet my testimony is, and ever must' be, to the reader, 
evidence of far lower grade and far less force than that he would have ob- 
tained if he had himself personally witnessed what I narrate. The differ- 
ence is inherent in the nature of things. 

56 so:me truths appeal 

is it under our system ever taken in court at second 
hand."^ And when a witness begins to repeat that which 
others have seen and related, what is the common phrase 
employed to recall him to his proper sphere of duty? 
— " Do not tell us w^iat others have said to you : keep to 
what you can depose of your owm knowledge^' 

So, also, w^hen in Scripture reference is made to per- 
sons having faith or lacking it, how are they designated ? 
As knoicers and unknowers ? No : but as believers and 
unbelievers. ^'Ile that believeth'^ — not he that knoweth 
— "shall be saved/' As to things spiritual the Bible 
(with rare exceptions) speaks of our belief on this side 
the grave, our knowledge only on the other. " Then 
shall we know, even as also we are known." 

But to argue at length such a point as this is mere 
supererogation. There are some truths the evidence 
for which no argument can strengthen, because they 
appeal directly to our consciousness and are adopted 
unchallenged and at once. A pious mother loses her 
child, — though the very phrase is a falsity : she but parts 
with him for a season, — but, in the world's language 
and in her heart's language, she loses her only child by 
death. If, now, just when her bereavement is felt the 
most despairingly, — in the bitter moment, perhaps, (the 
winter's storm raging without,) when the thought flashes 
across her that the cold sleet is beating on her deserted 
darling's new-made grave; if in that terrible moment 
there should reach her suddenly, unexpectedly, a token 
visible to the senses, an appearance in bodily form, or 

* I speak of the principles of evidence recognized by the common law; a 
system under which personal rights and guards to the liberty of the citizen 
are probably better assured than under any other ; though as to some rights 
of property the civil law system may claim the superiority. 

Evidence at second hand is admissible in the case of a dying man, 
conscious of the near approach of death, or as to what has been said, un- 
contradicted, in the presence and within the hearing of a prisoner ; but 
these arc the exceptions establishing the general rule. 


an actual message j)erhaps, which she knew came that 
instant direct from her child; that appearance or that 
message testifying that he whom she had just been 
thinking of as lying, wrested from her loving care, 
under the storm-beaten turf, was not there, was far 
happier than even she had ever made him, was far better 
cared for than even in her arms : in such a moment as 
that, how poor and worthless are all the arts of logic to 
prove that the sunshine of such unlooked-for assurance, 
breaking through the gloomy tempest of the mother's 
grief, and lighting up her shrouded hopes, has added 
nothing to the measure of her belief in immortality, has 
increased not the force of her convictions touching the 
Great Future, has raised not from faith to knowledge 
the degree of credence with which she can repeat to her 
soul the inspiring words, that, though the dust has re- 
turned to the earth as it was, the spirit is in the hands 
of God who gave it ! 

Then, if it should happen that the "unknown Dark" 
may, in a measure, even here become known; if it should 
be that the Great Dramatist inaptly described the next 
world, when he called it 

" The undiscovered country, from whose bourn 
No traveler returns;" 

if it should prove true that occasions sometimes present 
themselves when we have the direct evidence of our 
senses to demonstrate the continued existence and affec- 
tion of those friends who have passed that bourn; if it 
should be the will of God that, at this stage of man's 
constant progress, more clearly distinguishing pheno- 
mena which, in modern times at least, have been usually 
discredited or denied, he should attain a point at which 
Belief, the highest species of conviction which Scripture 
or analogy can supply, may rise to the grade of Know- 
ledge; — if all this be, in very deed, a Reality, is it not a 


glorious one, earnestly to be desired, gratefully to be 

And should not those who, with a single eye to the 
truth, faithfully and patiently question Nature, to dis- 
cover whether it is Reality or Illusion, — should not 
such honest and earnest investigators be cheered on 
their path, be commended for their exertions? If it be 
a sacred and solemn duty to study the Scriptures in 
search of religious belief, is it a duty less sacred, less 
solemn, to study Nature in search of religious know- 

In prosecuting that research, if any fear to sin by 
overpassing the limits of permitted inquiry and tres- 
passing upon unholy and forbidden ground, let him be 
reminded that Grod, who» protects His own mysteries, 
has rendered that sin impossible; and let him go, reve- 
rently indeed, but freely and undoubtingly, forward. 
If God has closed the way, man cannot pass thereon. 
But if He has left open the path, who shall forbid its 

It is good to take with us through life, as companion, 
a great and encouraging subject; and of this we feel the 
need the more as we advance in years. As to that 
which I have selected, eminently true is the happy ex- 
pression of a modern writer, that "in journeying with 
it we go toward the sun, and the shadow of our burden 
falls behind us."* 

Some one has suggested that, if we would truly deter- 
mine whether, at any given time, we are occupying 
ourselves after a manner worthy of rational and im- 
mortal beings, it behooves us to ask our hearts if we are 
willing death should surprise us in the occupation. 
There is no severer test. And if we apply it to such 
researches as these, how clearly stands forth their high 

* "Essays written during the Intervals of Business," London, 1853, p. 2. 


character! If, in prosecuting such, the observer be 
overtaken by death, the destroyer has no power to 
arrest his observations. The fatal fiat but extends their 
field. The torch is not quenched in the grave. It 
burns far more brightly beyond than ever it did or 
can in this dim world of ours. Here the inquirer may 
grope and stumble, seeing but as through a ghxss darkly. 
Death, that has delivered so many millions from misery, 
will dispel his doubts and resolve his difficulties. Death, 
the unriddler, will draw aside the curtain and let in the 
explaining light. That which is feebly commenced in 
this phase of existence will be far better prosecuted in 
another. Will the inquiry be completed even there? 
Who can tell ? 



*'He who, outside of pure mathematics, pronounces the word impossihlcy 
lacks prudence." — Arago: Annuaire du Bureau dcs Longitudes, 1853.* 

There was enacted, in April of the year 1493, and in 
the city of Barcelona, one of those great scenes which 
occur but a few times in the history of our race. 

A Genoese mariner, of humble birth and fortune, an 
enthusiast, a dreamer, a believer in Marco Polo and 
Mandeville and in all their gorgeous fables, — the golden 
shores of Zipango, the spicy paradise of Cathay, — had 
conceived the magnificent project of seeking out what 
proved to be an addition to the known world of another 

He had gone begging from country to country, from 
monarch to monarch, for countenance and means. His 
proposals rejected by his native city, he had carried 
them to Spain, then governed by two of the ablest 
sovereigns she ever had. But there the usual fortune 
of the theorist seemed to pursue him. His best pro- 
tector the humble guardian of an Andalusian convent, 
his doctrine rejected by the queen's confessor as savor- 
ing of heresy, his lofty pretensions scouted by nobles 
and archbishops as those of a needy foreign adventurer, 
his scheme pronounced by the learned magnates of the 

* The original, with its context, is, "Le doute est une preuve de modestie, 
et il a rarement nui aux progres des sciences. On n'en pourrait pas diro 
autant de Vincredulite. Celui qui, en dehors des mathematiques pures, 
prononce le mot impossible, manque de prudence. La reserve est surtout 
un devoir quand il s'agit de I'organisation animale." — Annuaire, p. 445. 


Salamanca council (for when was titled Science ever a 
pioneer?) to be '^vain, impracticable, and resting on 
grounds too weak to merit the support of the govern- 
ment/' — he had scantily found at last, even in the en- 
lightened and enterprising Isabella, tardy faith enough to 
adventure a sum that any lady of her court might have 
spent on a diamond bracelet or a necklace of pearl.* 

And now, returned as it were from the dead, survivor 
of a voyage overhung with preternatural horrors, his 
great problem, as in despite of man and nature, tri- 
umphantly resolved, the visionary was welcomed as 
the conqueror; the needy adventurer was recognized as 
Admiral of the Western Ocean and Yiceroy of a JSTew 
Continent; was received, in solemn state, by the haugh- 
tiest sovereigns in the world, rising at his approach, 
and invited (Castilian punctilio overcome by intellectual 
power) to be seated before them. He told his wondrous 
story, and exhibited, as vouchers for its truth, the 
tawny savages and the barbaric gold. King, queen, and 
court sunk on their knees; and the Te Deum sounded, 
as for some glorious victory. 

That night, in the silence of his chamber, what 
thoughts may have thronged on Columbus's mind! 
What exultant emotions must have swelled his heart! 
A past world had deemed the Eastern Hemisphere the 
entire habitable earth. Age had succeeded to age, cen- 
tury had passed away after century, and still the inter- 
dict had been acquiesced in, that westward beyond the 
mountain pillarsf it belonged not to man to explore. 

*■ Seventeen thousand florins was the petty amount which the fitting-out 
of Columbus's first expedition cost the crown of Castile. How incommen- 
surate, sometimes, are even our successful exertions with the importance 
of some noble but novel object of research ! 

f quella foce stretta 

Ov' Ercole segno li suoi riguardi, 
Aceioche I'uom piu oltre non si metta. 

Dante, Inferno, Canto XVL 


And yet he, the chosen of God to solve the greatest of 
terrestrial mysteries, affronting what even the hardy 
mariners of Palos had regarded as certain destruction, — • 
he, the hopeful one where all but himself despaired, 
— had wrested from the Deep its mighty secret, — had 
accomplished what the united voice of the Past had 
declared to be an impossible achievement. 

But now, if, in the stillness of that night, to this 
man, enthusiast, dreamer, believer as he was, there had 
suddenly appeared some Nostradamus of the fifteenth 
century, of j)rophetic mind instinct with the future, and 
had declared to the ocean-compeller that not four cen- 
turies would elapse before that vast intervening gulf 
of waters — from the farther shore of which, through 
months of tempest, he had just groped back his Aveary 
way — should interpose no obstacle to the free communi- 
cation of human thought ; that a man standing on the 
western shore of Europe should, within three hundred 
and seventy years from that day, engage in conversation 
with his fellow standing on the eastern shore of the new- 
found world; nay, — marvel of all marvels! — that the 
same fearful bolt which during his terrible voyage had 
so often lighted up the waste of waters around him 
should itself become the agent of communication across 
that storm-tossed ocean; that mortal creatures, un- 
aided by angel or demon, without intervention of 
Heaven or pact with hell, should bring that lightning 
under domestic subjection,' and employ it, as they might 
some menial or some carrier-dove, to bear their daily 
messages; — to a prediction so wildly extravagant, so 
surpassingly absurd, as that, what credence could even 
Columbus lend ? What answer to such a proj)hetic 
vision may we imagine that he, with all a life's expe- 
rience of man's short-sightedness, would have given? 
Probably some reply like this : that, though in the future 
many strange things might be, such a tampering with 


Nature as that — short of a direct miracle from God — 


Arago was right. With exact truths we may deal in 
a positive manner. Of a hexagon inscribed within a 
circle each side is of the same length as the radius of 
that circle : it is impossible it should be either longer or 
shorter. The surface contained within the square of 
the hypothenuse is exactly of the same extent as the 
squares^ taken together, of the two other sides of the 
same right-angled triangle : it is impossible it should bo 
either greater or less. These things we declare to be im- 
possible with the same assurance and the same propriety 
with which we assert that we exist; and there is no more 
presumption in declaring the one than in asserting the 
other. But, outside the domain of pure mathematics, or 
kindred regions of abstract or intuitive truth, cautious 
and modest in his pronouncings should be fallible and 
short-sighted man. By what warrant does he assume to 
determine what God's laws permit and what they deny? 
By what authority does he take upon himself to assert 
that to him all these laws are known? The term of his 
life but a day, the circumference of his ken but a spot, 
whence derives he his commission, groping about in his 
little span of the Present, arrogantly to proclaim what 
is and what is not to be in the illimitable Future ? Does 
not History bear on every page a condemnation of the 
impiety? Does not Experience daily rise up and testify 
aloud against such egregious presumption ? 

jSTot thus is it that those speak and reason whom deep 
research has taught how little they know. It occurs to 
the humble wisdom of such men that laws of nature 
may exist with which they are wholly unacquainted;* 

* I translate from La Place's " Theorie analytique des Prohahilites :" — 
*'We are so far from knowing all the agents of nature and their various 
modes of action, that it would not be philosophical to deny any phenomena 


nay, some, perhaps, which may never, since man was 
first here to observe them, have been brought into 
operation at alL 

Sir John Herschel has aptly iUustrated this truth. 
" Among all the possible combinations," says that en- 
lightened philosopher, "of the fifty or sixty elements 
which chemistry shows to exist on the earth, it is likely, 
nay, almost certain, that some have never been formed ; 
that some elements, in some proportions and under 
some circumstances, have never yet been placed in rela- 
tion with one another. Yet no chemist can doubt that 
it is already fixed what they will do when the case does 
occur. They will obey certain laws, of which we know 
nothing at present, but which must he already fixed, or 
they would not be laws."* 

And what is true as to rules of chemical affinity is 
equally true of physiological and psychological laws. 
Indeed, it is more likely to be a frequent truth as to the 

merely because in the actual state of our knowledge they are inexplicable. 
This only we ought to do : in proportion to the difficulty there seems to be 
in admitting them should be the scrupulous attention we bestow on their 
examination." — Introd., p. 43. 

From a widely-accepted authority still better known among us I extract, 
in the same connection, the following, in the last line of which, however, 
the word possibility might have been more strictly in place than proba- 
hility : — 

*' An unlimited skepticism is the part of a contracted mind, which reasons 
upon imperfect data, or makes its own knowledge and extent of observation 
the standard and test of probability. . . . 

" In receiving upon testimony statements which are rejected by the vulgar 
as totally incredible, a man of cultivated mind is influenced by the recollec- 
tion that many things at one time appeared to him marvelous which he now 
knows to be true, and he thence concludes that there may still be in nature 
many phenomena and many principles with which he is entirely unac- 
quainted. In other words, he has learned from experience not to make his 
own knowledge his test of probability." — Abercrombie's Intellectual Foicera, 
pp. 55 and 60. 

^i <' Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural PhilosopJiy," by Sir 
John F. W. Herschel, Bart., K.H., F.R.S. London, 2d ed., 1851, p. 36. 


laws of mind than as to those of matter, because there 
is nothing in the world so constantly progressive as the 
intelligence of man. His race alone, of all the animated 
races with which we are acquainted, changes and rises 
from generation to generation. The elephant and the 
beaver of to-day are not, that we knoAV, more intelligent or 
further develoj^ed than were the elephant and the beaver 
of three thousand years ago. Theirs is a stationary 
destiny, but man's an advancing one, — advancing from 
savage instincts to civilized sentiments, from unlettered 
boorishness to arts and sciences and literature, from 
anarchy to order, from fanaticism to Christianity. 

But it is precisely in the case of a being whose pro- 
gress is constant, and whose destiny is upward as well 
as onward, that we may the most confidently look, at 
certain epochs of his development, for the disclosure of 
new relations and the further unfolding of laws till then 
but imperfect!}' known. 

There is, it is true, another view to take of this case. 
To some it will seem an unwarranted stretch of ana- 
logical inference that because in the department of 
chemistry we may anticipate combinations never yet 
formed, to be governed by laws never yet operating, we 
should therefore conclude that in the department of 
mind, also, similar phenomena may be expected. Mind 
and matter, it may be objected, are separated by so 
broad a demarkation-line, that what is true of the one 
may be false of the other. 

Are they so widely separated ? Distinct they are ; 
nothing is more untenable than the argument of the 
materialist ; but yet how intimately connected ! A 
pressure on the substance of the brain, and thought is 
suspended ; a sponge with a few anesthetic drops ap- 
plied to the nostrils, and insensibility supervenes ; 
another odor inhaled, and life is extinct. 

And if such be the action of matter on mind, no less 
E 6* 


striking is the control of mind over matter. The influ- 
ence of imagination is proverbial; yet it has ever been 
underrated. The excited mind can cure the suffering 
body. Faith, exalted to ecstasy, has arrested disease.* 
The sway of will thoroughly stirred into action often 
transcends the curative power of physic or physician. 

But it is not in general considerations, such as these, 
that the argument rests touching the intimate connec- 
tion between material influences and mental phenomena. 
The modern study of the imponderables, already pro- 
ductive of physical results that to our ancestors would 
have seemed sheer miracles, has afforded glimpses of 
progress in another direction, w^hich may brighten into 
discoveries before which the spanning of the Atlantic 
by a lightning-wire will pale into insignificance. Gal- 
vani's first hasty inferences as to animal electricity were 
to a certain extent refuted, it is true, by Yolta's stricter 
tests. But in Italy, in Prussia, and in England, experi- 
ments of a recent date, following up the just though 
imperfect idea of the Bolognese professor, have esta- 
blished the fact that the muscular contractions, voluntary 
or automatic, which produce action in a living limb, 
correspond to currents of electricity existing there in 
appreciable quantities."]* The discoverer of creosote has 

* These opinions find ample confirmation — to select one among many 
sources — in a branch of study equally interesting to the physician and the 
psychologist; the history, namely, .of the great mental epidemics of the 
world. The reader will find these briefly noticed further on in these pages. 

f Galvaui's first eventful observation on an electrical agency producing 
muscular contractions in animals, made on the 20th of September, 1786, 
was, after all, the starting-point of the recent interesting researches by Du 
Bois-Reymond, Zantedeschi, Matteucci, and others, on the continent of Eu- 
rope, and by Rutter and Leger, in England. Du Bois-Reymond himself, 
member of the Academy of Sciences of Berlin, very candidly admits this 
fact. In a historical introduction to his work on Animal Magnetism 
(" Untersuchungen iiber thierische Elelctricit'dt" Berlin, 1848-49) that writer 
says, " Galvani really discovered not only the fundamental physiological 
experiment of galvanism properly so called, (the contraction of the frog 


given to the world the results of a ten years' labor, it 
may be said, in the same field; distinguishing, however, 
what he terms the Odic from the electric force.* Araco 


thought the case of Angelique Cottin (well known under 
the name of the " Electric Girl") worthy of being brought 
under the notice of the Paris Academy of Sciences ;f 
and, speaking, seven years afterward, of " the actual 
power which one man may exert over another without 
the intervention of any known physical agent,'' he de- 
clares that even Bailly's report against Mesmer's crude 
theory shows ''how our faculties ought to be studied 

■when touched with dissimilar metals,) but also that of the electricity inhe- 
rent in the nerves and muscles. Both of these discoveries were, however, 
hidden in such a confusion of circumstances that the result in both cases 
appeared equally to depend on the limbs or tissues of the animals emploj-ed." 

The reader, desiring to follow up this subject, may consult a work by II. 
Bence Jones, M.D., F.B.S., entitled '* Oh Ammal Electricity : being an Ab- 
stract of the Discoveries of Emil Du Bois-Reymond," London, 1852. Also, 
*' Traite des Phenomenea electro-physiologiques des Animaux," by Carlo Mat- 
teucci, Professor in the University cf Pisa, 1844. Also, Baron Humboldt's 
work on Stimulated Nervous and Muscular Fibers, {f^Versuche iiher die 
gereizte Muskel- und Nervevfaser, u. s. ic") 

In England experiments in this branch have been pushed further than in 
any other country ; chiefly by Butter of Brighton, and by Dr. Leger, whose 
early death was a loss alike to physiological and psychological science. I 
had an opportunity, through the kindness of Mr. Butter, of personally 
witnessing the extraordinary results to which his patient research has led, 
and which I regret that space does not permit me here to notice at large. 
I can but refer to his work, "Human Electricity : the Means of its Develop- 
ment, illustrated by Experiments," London, 1854; and to another brief treatise 
on the same subject, by Dr. T. Leger, entitled '' The Magnetoscope : an Essay 
on the Magnctoid Characteristics of Elementary Principles, and their Rela- 
tions to the Organization of Man," London, 1852. 

The whole subject is singularly interesting, and will richly repay the 
study that may be bestowed upon it. 

* I here refer to Baron Beichenbach's elaborate treatises on what he calls 
the " Odic Force," without expressing any opinion as to the accuracy of the 
author's conclusions. Beichenbach discovered creosote in 183.3. 

t Arago's report on the subject was made on the 16th of February, 1846. 
It is much to be regretted that an observer so sagacious should have had no 
opportunity, in this case, to follow up his first hasty experiments. 

68 cuvier's admission. 

experimentally, and by what means psj^ehology may 
one day obtain a place among the exact sciences/^* 
Cuvier, more familiar than Arago with the phenomena 
of animated nature, speaks more decidedly than he on 
the same subject. " It scarcely admits of further doubt/' 
says that eminent naturalist, ^^ that the proximity of two 
living bodies, in certain circumstances and with certain 
movements, has a real effect, independently of all parti- 
cipation of the imagination of one of the two /' and he 
further adds that ''it appears now clearly enough that 
the effects are due to some communication established 
between their nervous systems.""}" This is conceding 
the principle lying at the base of Mesmerism, — a con- 
cession which is sustained by countless observations, 
little reliable in some cases, but in others, especially of 
late, carefully made by upright and capable experiment- 
alists, on the contested ground of artificial somnambulism 
and kindred phenomena. 

Without pausing here to inquire to what extent these 
various startling novelties need confirmation, or how 
far the deductions therefrom may be modified or dis- 
proved by future observations, enough of indisputable 
can be found therein, if not to indicate that we may be 
standing even now on the shores of a Great Ocean, 
slowly unvailing its wonders, and the exploration of 

* "Biographie cle Jcan-Sylvain Bailly," by M. Arago, originally pub- 
lished in tlie "Annuaire du Bureau des Longitudes" for 1853, pp. 345 to 

'\ " Leoons cV Anafomie comparee" de G. Cuvier, Paris ; An. viii. vol. ii. 
pp. 117, 118. The original text, with its context, is as follows : — 

"Lcs eflfets obtenus sur des personnes deja sans connaissance avant que 
I'operation commen§at, ceux qui ont lieu sur les autres personnes apresque 
Topgration leur a fait perdre connaissance, et ceux que presentent les ani- 
maux, ne permettent guere de douter que la proxiniite de deux corps 
animes, dans certairies positions et avec certains mouvements, n'ait un 
effet reel, independant de toute participation de I'imagination d'une des 
deux. H parait assez clairement, aussi, que les efifets sont dus a une commu- 
nication quelconque qui s'etablit entre leurs systemes nerveux." 


which is to bring us richer reward than did that of the 
Atlantic to Columbus, at least to convince us that Ilcr- 
schel's philosophical remark may have a wider range 
than he intended to give it; that in physiology and in 
psychology, as in chemistry, there may be possible com- 
binations that have never yet been formed under our 
eyes; new relations, new conditions, yet to exist or 
appear; all to be governed, when they do occur, by 
laws that have obtained, indeed, from the creation of 
the world, but have remained until now, if not inopera- 
tive, at least concealed from general observation. 

From general observation ; for, though unrecognized 
by science, they are not therefore to be set down as un- 
known. It is one of the objects proposed in the pages 
which follow, to glean, from the past as well as the 
present, scattered intimations of the existence of laws 
under which it has been alleged that man may attain, 
from sources other than revelation and analogy, some 
assurance in regard to the world to come. And since 
it is evident that no abstract truth is violated b}^ the 
hypothesis of the existence of such laAVS, may I not 
adduce such names as Arago and Herschel to sustain 
me in asserting, that they lack prudence who take upon 
themselves to pronounce, in advance, that whoever 
argues such a theme has engaged in a search after the 




The universal cause 
Acts, not by partial but by general laws. — Pope. 

Men are very generally agreed to regard him as 
stricken with superstition or blinded by credulity who 
believes in any miracle of modern days. And as the 
world grows older this disbelief in the supernatural 
gradually acquires strength and universality. 

The reason seems to be, that the more searchingly 
science explores the mechanism of the universe and 
unvails the plan of its government, the more evidence 
there appears for the poet's opinion that it is by general, 
not by partial, laws that the universe is governed. 

In such a doctrine the question of God's omnipotence 
is not at all involved. It is not whether He can make 
exceptions to a system of universal law, but whether 
He does. If we may permit ourselves to speak of God's 
choice and intentions, it is not whether, to meet an in- 
cidental exigency, He has the power to susj)end the 
order of those constant sequences which, because of 
their constancy, we term: laws; but only whether, in 
point of fact. He chooses to select that occasional mode 
of effecting His objects, or does not rather see fit to 
carry them out after a more unvarying plan, by means 
less exceptional and arbitrary. It is a question of fact. 

But modern Science, in her progress, not only strikes 

from what used to be regarded as the list of exceptions 

to the general order of nature one item after another: 

she exhibits to us, also, more clearly day by day, the 



simplicity of natural laws, and the principle of unity 
under which detached branches are connected as parts 
of one great system 

Thus, as applied to what happens in our day, accumu- 
lating experience discredits the doctrine of occasional 
causes and the belief in the miraculous. If a man 
relate to us, even from his own experience, some inci- 
dent clearly involving supernatural agency, we listen 
Avith a shrug of pity. If we have too good an opinion 
of the narrator's honesty to susj)ect that he is playing 
on our credulity, we conclude unhesitatingly that he is 
deceived by his own. "\Ye do not stop to examine the 
evidence for a modern miracle : we reject it on general 

But, in assenting to such skepticism, we shall do well 
to consider what a miracle is. Hume, in his well-known 
chapter on this subject, adduces a useful illustration. 
The Indian prince, he says, who rejected testimony as 
to the existence of ice, refused his assent to facts which 
arose from a state of nature with which he was unac- 
quainted, and which bore so little analogy to those 
events of which he had had constant and uniform expe- 
rience. As to these facts, he alleges, "Though they 
were not contrary to his experience, they were not con- 
formable to it.^'"^ And, in explanation of the distinction 
here made, he adds, in a note, "^o Indian, it is evident, 
could have experience that water did not freeze in cold 

Is the above distinction a substantial one? If so, it 
leads much further than Hume intended it should. 
. Not only had the Indian prince never seen water in 
a solid state; until now, he had never heard of such a 
thing. Not only was his own unvarying experience 

* Hume's " Essays and Treatises on Various Subjects/' 2cl ed., London, 
1784, vol. ii. p. 122. 

t Hume's Essays, vol. ii., Note K, p. 479. 


opposed to the alleged fact, but the experience of his 
fathers, the traditions of his country, all declared that 
water ever had been, as now it was, a fluid. Had he 
no right to say that solid water was a thing contrary 
to his experience? Or ought he, with philosophic mode- 
ration, to have restricted his declaration to this, that 
the phenomenon of ice, if such phenomenon had actual 
existence, " arose from a state of nature with which he 
was unacquainted." 

We, who have so often walked upon solid water, find 
no difficulty in deciding that this last is what he ought 
to have said. Let us forgive the ignorant savage his 
presumptuous denial, as we would ourselves, in similar 
case, be forgiven ! 

Let us reflect how much cautious wisdom, that we find 
not among the best informed and most learned among 
ourselves, we are expecting from an unlettered bar- 
barian. Let us inquire whether Hume, calm and philo- 
sophic as he is, does not himself fail in the very wisdom 
he exacts. He says, in the same chapter, — 

"A miracle is a violation of the laws of Nature; and, 
as a firm and unalterable experience has established these 
laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature 
of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience 
can possibly be imagined.''* 

Here are two propositions : one, that what a firm and 
unalterable experience establishes is a law of nature; 
and the other, that a variation from such a law is a 

But no human experience is unalterable. We may 
say it has hitherto been unaltered. And even that it is 
always hazardous to say. 

H any one has a right thus to speak of his experi- 
ence and that of his fellows, was not the Indian prince 
justified in considering it to be proved, by unalterable 

* Hume's Essays, vol. ii. p. 122. 


expericDCo, that a stone placed on the surface of a sheet 
of water would sink to the bottom ? Was he not 
fully justified, according to Hume's own premises, in 
setting down the traveler's allegation to the contrary 
as the assertion of a miracle, and, as such, in rejecting 
it as impossible ? 

"No Indian," says Hume, "could have experience 
that water did not freeze in cold countries." Of course 
not. That was a fact beyond his experience. Are there 
no facts beyond ours? Are there no states of nature 
with which we are unacquainted ? Is it the Indian 
prince alone whose experience is limited and fallible ? 

When a man speaks of the experience of the past as 
a regulator of his belief, he means — he ccui mean — only 
so much of that experience as has come to his knowledge 
mediately or immediately. In such a case, then, to ex- 
press himself accurately, he ought not to say, " the ex- 
perience of the past," — for that would imj^ly that he 
knows all that has ever happened, — but only, " my past 

Then Hume's assertion, in the paragraph above quoted, 
is, that his past experience, being firm and unalterable,* 
enables him to determine what are invariable laws of 
nature, and, consequently, what are miracles. 

iSTor is this the full extent of the presumption. Else- 
where in this chapter the author says " that a miracle 
supported by any human testimony is more properly a 
subject of derision than of argument."! 

Taken in connection with the paragraph above cited, 
what a monstrous doctrine is here set up I Let it be 

* In another place (p. 119) Hume employs the word infallible in a simi- 
lar connection, thus: — "A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. 
In such conclusions as are founded on an infallible experience, he expects 
the event with the last degree of assurance, and regards his past experience 
as a fnW proof of the future existence of that event." CThc italics are his.) 

t Hume's Essays, vol. ii. p. 133. 

74 Hume's definition 

stated in plain terms. '' I regard my past experience as 
firm and unalterable. If a witness, no matter how 
credible, testifies to any occurrence which is contrary to 
that experience, I do not argue with such a man: he is 
only worthy of derision." 

Though, in our day, hundreds who ought to know 
better act out this very doctrine, I would not be under- 
stood as asserting that Hume intended to put it forth. 
We often fail to perceive the legitimate issue of our own 

Eut let us proceed a step further. Let us inquire 
under what circumstances we have the right to say, 
^'such or such an occurrence is incredible^ for it would 
be miraculous.'' - 

The question brings us back to our first inquiry, — as 
to what a miracle is. Let us examine Hume's defini- 
tion : — 

"A miracle may be accurately defined, a transgres- 
sion of a law of nature by a particular volition of the 
Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent."* 
I remark, in passing, that the expression " by the inter- 
position of some invisible agent" is an inaccuracy. Cold 
is an invisible agent : it is not even a positive agent at 
all, being only the withdrawal or diminution of heat. 
Yet cold suspends what the Indian prince had strong 
reason for regarding as a law of nature. 

But the main proposition remains. "A miracle is a 
transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition 
of the Deity." 

Here again the language seems unhappily chosen. 
When we speak of a thing as happening by the will of 
God, we rationally intend, by the expression, only that 
it is the act of God; for God's intentions are inscrutable 
to us, except as they appear in His acts. Can we say 

* Hume's Essays, vol. ii., Note K, p. 4S0. 


of any thing which occurs at all, that it docs not occur 
by volition of the Deity ? 

The word "transgression/' too, seems not the best that 
could have been employed.* It must, of course, be taken 
in its original sense of a going or passing beyond. The 
author evidently meant a suspension for the time to suit 
a particular emergency ; and that would have been the 
more appropriate phrase. 

Hume's idea, then, would seem to be more fittingly 
expressed in these terms: — "A miracle is a suspension, in 
a special emergency and for the time only, of a law 
of nature, by the direct intervention of the Deity.'' AYe 
might add, to complete the ordinary conception of a 
miracle, the words, ''in attestation of some truth." 

And now arises. the chief question, already suggested. 
How are we to know, as to any unusual phenomenon 
presented to us, that it is an effect of the special inter- 
vention of God ? in other words, whether it is miracu- 
lous ? 

But I will not even ask this question as to ourselves, 
finite and short-sighted as we are. It shall be far more 
forcibly put. Let us imagine a sage, favored beyond 
living mortal, of mind so comprehensive, of information 
so vast, that the entire experience of the past world, 
century by century, even from man's creation, lay 
patent before him. Let us suppose the question ad- 
dressed to him. And would he, — a being thus preterna- 
turally gifted, — would even he have the right to decide, 

'^- It would be hypercriticism to object to this expression in a general way. 
The best authors have employed it as Hume does, yet rather in poetry than 
in prose, as Drydcn : — 

" Long stood the noble youth, oppressed with awe. 
And stupid at the wondrous things he saw, 
Surpassing common faith, transgressing Nature's law." 
But a looseness of expression which may adorn a poetic phrase, or pass 
unchallenged in a literary theme, should be avoided in a strictly logical 
argument, and more especially in a definition of terms. 


would he have the means of deciding, as to any event 
which may happen to-day, whether it is, or is not, a 
miracle ? 

He may know, what we never can, that a uniform ex- 
perience, continued throughout thousands of years and 
unbroken yet by a single exception, has established, as 
far as past experience can establish, the existence of a 
natural law or constant sequence; and he may observe 
a variation, the first which ever occurred, to this law. 
But is it given to him to know whether the Deity, to 
meet a certain exigency, is suspending His own law, or 
whether this variation is not an integral portion of the 
original law itself? in other words, whether the apparent 
law, as judged by an induction running through thou- 
sands of years, is the full expression of that law, or 
whether the exception now first appearing was not em- 
braced in the primary adjustment of the law itself, when 
it was first made to act on the great mechanism of the 
Universe ? 

Has the Creator of the world no power to establish 
for its progressive government laws of (what we may 
call) a change-bearing character? preserving, (that is,) 
through the lapse of many ages, constancy of sequence, 
and then, at a certain epoch, by virtue of that charac- 
ter, (impressed upon it by the same original ordination 
which determined the previous long-enduring constancy,) 
made to exhibit a variation? 

We, his creatures, even -with our restricted powers, 
know how to impress upon human mechanism laws of 
just such a character. The illustration furnished by 
Babbage's Calculating Machine, familiar though it may 
be, so naturally suggests itself in this connection, that 
I may be pardoned for presenting it here. 

Mr. Babbage's engine, intended to calculate and print 
mathematical and astronomical tables for the British 
Government, offers interesting incidental results. Of 


these, the following, supplied by the inventor himself, is 
an example ; and one of such a character that no know- 
ledge of the mechanism of the machine, nor acquaint- 
ance with mathematical science, is necessary to compre- 
hend it. 

He bids us imagine that the machine had been adjusted. 
It is put in motion by a weight, and the spectator, 
sitting down before it, observes a w^heel which moves 
through a small angle round its axis, and which pre- 
sents at short intervals to his e^^e, successively, a series 
of numbers engraved on its divided surface. He bids us 
suppose the figures thus seen to be the series of natural 
numbers, 1, 2, 3, 4, &c. ; each one exceeding its ante- 
cedent by unity. Then he proceeds : — 

" Now, reader, let me ask how long you will have 
counted before you are firmly convinced that the engine, 
supposing its adjustments to remain unaltered, w^ill con- 
tinue, whilst its motion is maintained, to produce the 
same series of natural numbers ? Some minds, perhaps, 
are so constituted, that after passing the first hundred 
terms they will be satisfied that they are acquainted 
with the law. After seeing five hundred terms few will 
doubt ; and after the fifty thousandth term the propensity 
to believe that the succeeding term will be fifty thousand 
and one will be almost irresistible. That term will be 
fifty thousand and one : the same regular succession 
will continue; the five millionth and the fifty millionth 
term will still appear in their expected order ; and one 
unbroken chain of natural numbers will pass before 
your eyes, from one up to one hundred million. 

" True to the vast induction which has thus been 
made, the next term will be one hundred million and 
one; but after that the next number presented by the 
rim of the w^heel, instead of being one hundred million 
and two, is one hundred million ten thousand and two. 
The whole series, from the commencement, being thus : — 





regularly as far as 100,000,001 

100,010,002 :— the law changes. 






"The law which seemed at first to govern this series 
failed at the hundred million and second term. This 
term is larger than we expected by 10,000. The next 
term is larger than was anticipated by 30,000; and the 
excess of each term above what we had expected is 
found to be 10,000, 30,000, 60,000, 100,000, 150,000, &c. ; 
being, in fact, what are called the series of triangular 
numbers, each multiplied by 10,000." 

Mr. Babbage then goes on to state that this new law, 
after continuing for 2761 terms, fails at the two thou- 
sand seven hundred and sixty-second term, when 
another law comes into action, to continue for 1430 
terms; then to give place to still another, extending 
over 950 terms; which, like all its predecessors, fails in 
its turn, and is succeeded by other laws, which appear 
at different intervals. 

Mr. Babbage's remarks on this extraordinary pheno- 
menon are as follows : — 

babbage's calculatin(j machine. 70 

^'jS^ow, it must be remarked, that the law that each 
number presented by the engine is greater by unity than the 
preceding number, which hiw the observer had deduced 
from an induction of a hundred million instances, was not 
the true law that reguhxted its action ; and that the 
occurrence of the number 100,010,002 at the 100,000,002d 
term was as necessary a consequence of the original ad- 
justment, and might have been as fully foreknown 
at the commencement, as was the regular succession of 
any one of the intermediate numbers to its immediate 
antecedent. The same remark applies to the next ap- 
parent deviation from the new law, which was founded 
on an induction of 2761 terms, and to all the succeeding 
laws; with this limitation only, — that, whilst their con- 
secutive introduction at various definite intervals is a 
necessary consequence of the mechanical structure of 
the engine, our knowledge of analysis does not yet 
enable iis to predict the periods at which the more 
distant laws will be introduced."* 

This illustration must not be taken as suborned to 
establish more than it strictly proves. It is, doubtless, 
not only a wise but a necessary provision in our nature, 
that the constancy of any sequence in the past should 
inspire us with faith that it will continue in the future. 
Without such faith, the common economy of life would 
stand still. Uncertain whether to-morrow's sun Avould 
rise as did the sun of to-day, or whether the seasons 
would continue their regular alternations, our lives 
would pass amid scruples and hesitations. All calcula- 
tion would be baffled; all industry would sink under 

The chances, so incalculably great, in most cases, as 

* " Ninth Bridgewatcr Treatise," by Charles Babbage, 2d ed., London, 
1838, pp. 34 to 39. The passage has been already quoted by another, in 
connection with a physiological question. 


for all pnictical purposes to amount to certainty, are 
in favor of the constancy of natural sequences. The 
corresponding expectations, common to man with the 
lower animals, are instinctive. 

All this is not only true, but it is palpable to our 
overy-day consciousness, — a truth whereupon is based 
the entire superstructure of our dail}" hoj^es and actions. 
The wheel, with its divided surface, ever revolving, 
does present, to human eyes, uniformity of sequence, age 
after age; and when the unbroken chain has run on froni 
thousands to millions, we r/re justified, amply justified, 
in expecting that the next term will obey the same 
law that determined its antecedent. All I have sought 
to do in this argument is to keep alive in our minds the 
conviction, that there may be a hundred million and 
second term, at which the vast induction fails; and 
that, if such does appear, we have no right to conclude 
that the change, unprecedented as it must seem to us, is 
not as necessarj^ a consequence of an original adjust- 
ment as was the seemingly infinite uniformity that 
preceded it. 

The extreme rarity of what I have called change- 
bearing laws of nature is to be conceded; but not the 
improbability of their existence. In a world all over 
which is stamped the impress of progress, and which, 
for aught w^e know, may continue to endure through 
countless ages, laws of such a character, self-adapted to 
a changeful state of things, may be regarded as of likely 

* Modern science is revealing to us glimpses that may brighten into 
positive proof of this hypothesis. Sir John Herschel, writing to Lyell the 
geologist, and alluding to what he calls that "mystery of mysteries, the 
replacement of extinct species by others," says, — 

" For my own part, I cannot but think it an inadequate conception of the 
Creator, to assume it as granted that His combinations are exhausted upon 
any one of the theaters of their former exercise ; though in this, as in all 


But it suffices fur the present argument to establish 
the possibility of such laws. If they are possible, then, 
in regard to any alleged occurrence of modern times, 
(strange in character, perhaps, but coming to us well 
attested,) we are barred from asserting that, because 
contrary to past experience, it would be miraculous, and 
is consequently impossible. We are as strictly barred 
from this as are the visitors to Mr. Babbage's engine 
from pronouncing, when the long uniformity of a past 
sequence is unexpectedly violated, that the inventor has 
been dealing in the black art and is trenching on the 

His other works, we arc led by all analogy to suppose that lie operates 
through a series of intermediate causes, and that, in consequence, the ori- 
gination of fresh species, could it ever come under our cognizance, would 
be found to be a natural, in contradistinction to a miraculous, process; 
although we may perceive no indication of any process, actually in pro- 
gress, which is likely to issue in such a result." — Hoschel's letter of Feb. 
20, 1836, liuhlished in Apiiendix to Bahharje's work above cited, p. 226. 

* Reading this chapter more than a year after it Avas written — namely, in 
March, 1859 — to a private circle of friends in London, one of them called 
my attention, in connection with its argument, to an article then just pub- 
lished in the (London) Athenaeum, attributed (correctly, I believe) to 
Professor De Morgan, of the London L^niversity. It j^roved to be a review 
of that strange self-commitment of an able man, virtually following 
Hume's false lead, Faraday's extraordinary lecture on " Mental Training," 
delivered, before Prince Albert, at the Royal Institution. And it was a 
satisfaction to me, on referring to the article, to find, from the pen of one 
of the first mathematicians of Europe, such a paragraph as the following: — 

" The natural jDhilosopher, when he imagines a ^:>Aysi'crt^ inqiossibility 
which is not an inconceivability, merely states that his phenomenon is 
against all that has been hitherto known of the course of nature. Before 
he can compass an impossibility, he has a huge postulate to ask of his 
reader or hearer, a postulate which nature never taught: it is that the future 
is always to agree with the past. How do you know that this sequence 
of phenomena always will be? Answer, Because it must be. But how do 
you knoAV that it must be? Answer, Because it always has been. But 
then, even granting that it always has been, how do you know that what 
always has been always will be? Answer, I feel my mind compelled to 
that conclusion. And how do you know that the leanings of your mind 
are always toward trutli? Because I am infallible, the answer ovfjht to 


JSTay, there are far stronger reasons against such pre- 
sumption in our case than in that of the supposed spec- 
tator before the calculating machine. He has ob- 
served the entire series^ even to the hundred millionth 
term. How insignificant the fraction that has passed 
before our eyes ! How imperfect our knowledge of 
that portion which has passed before the eyes of 
our ancestors! How insufficient, then, are the data 
for a decision that the past uniformity has been un- 
broken ! 

And herein, beyond all question, do we find a source 
of error infinitely more frequent than is the failure to 
recognize a change-bearing law. I have set forth the ex- 
istence of such laws as a possibility beyond human denial; 
yet only as an argument to meet an extreme case, — a 
case so exceedingly rare that, notwithstanding its cer- 
tain possibility, it may never present itself to our ob- 
servation. So flir as the scoj^e of our limited experience 
extends, the argument, how undeniable soever, may 
have no practical application. It may never be our 
fortune to stand before the Great Machine at the 
moment when the hundred million and second term, 
unexpectedly presenting itself, indicates a departure 
from all former precedent. 

Among the laws which we see at work, it may chance 
that we shall never observe one which some ancestor 
has not seen in operation already. N^ay, that chance 
is a probable one. In other words, if a phenomenon 
actually present itself which we are tempted to regard 
as a violation of natural knv, it is more likely — ten 
thousand to one — that a similar phenomenon has al- 
ready shown itself more or less frequently in the past, 
than that it presents itself now for the first time in the 
history of our race. 

he: but this answer is never given." — Atheiiscum,'&o. 3 637, of March [1, 
1859, p. 350. 


The source of oiu* error, then, Avheii we mistake tlie 
extraordinary for the miraculous, is far more frequently 
in our ignorance of what has been than in our false con- 
ceptions of what may be. 

The error itself, from either source arising, is a 
grave one, entailing important practical consequences, 
which have varied in their prevailing character at 
different periods of the Avorld. In our day the usual 
result is incredulity, in advance of examination, as to 
all phenomena that seem, to our limited experience, 
incapable of rational explanation. One or two cen- 
turies ago the same error often assumed a different 
form. When a phenomenon presented itself to the 
men of that day, the cause of which they did not com- 
prehend, and w^iich seemed to them, for that reason, out 
of the course of nature, they were wont to take it for 
granted that it happened either through the agency of 
the devil, or else by special interj^osition of the Deity 
in attestation of some contested truth. Thus, Eacine re- 
lates what he calls the miraculous cure of Mademoiselle 
Perrier, the niece of Pascal, and then an inmate of the 
celebrated Convent of Port Eoj'al; and Pascal himself 
seeks to prove that this miracle was necessary to religion, 
and was performed in justification of the nuns of that 
convent, ardent Jansenists, and for that reason under 
the ban of the Jesuits. La Place, treating the whole as 
imposture, adduces it as a lamentable example — "afflict- 
ing to see and painful to read" — of that blind credulity 
which is sometimes the weakness of great men.* 

* See Introduction to bis " Theon'e anali/tique dcs Pi'ubabilites,'' (7th vol. 
of his works. Paris, 1S47,) p. 95. 

For the story itself the reader is referred to Racine's "Abrec/e de I'Hh- 
toire de Port Pioycd," Paris, 1693. The alleged miracle occurred in 1656. 
The young girl, Perrier, had been afflicted with a lachrymal fistula. To 
the diseased eye was applied a relic, — said to be a thorn from the crown 
which the Jewish soldiers in mockery placed on the head of Christ. The 


The truth in this case, as in many others, may ra- 
tionally be sought between these extremes of opinion. 
We cannot, at this distance of time, assume to decide 
Avhat the j^recise facts were; but, without impeaching 
the good faith of a croAvd of respectable witnesses, we 
may deem it probable that the cure really was an extra- 
ordinary one, due, it may be, to the influence of the ex- 
cited mind over the body, or to some magnetic or other 
occult agency hitherto unrecognized by science; at all 
events, to some natural, though hidden, cause. Pascal 
and La Place arc doubtless equally in error; the latter 
in denying that a wonderful cure was effected, the 
former in seeking its cause in the special intervention 
of a sujiernatural power; in imagining that God had 

girl declared that tbe touch had cured her. Some days afterward she was 
examined by several physicians and surgeons, who substantiated the fact 
of her cure, and expressed the opinion that it had not been brought about 
by medical treatment, or by any natural cause. Besides this, the cure was 
attested not only by all the nuns of the convent, — celebrated over Europe 
for their austerity, — but it is further fortified by all the proof which a mul- 
titude of witnesses of undoubted character — men of the world as well as 
physicians — could bestow upon it. The Queen Regent of France, very 
much prejudiced against Port Royal as a nest of Jansenists, sent her own 
surgeon, M. Felix, to examine into the miracle; and he returned an absolute 
convert. So incontestable was it regarded, even by the enemies of the 
nuns, that it actually saved their establishment for a time from the ruin 
•with which it was threatened hy the Jesuits, — who ultimately succeeded, 
however, some fifty-three years later, in suppressing the convent; it being 
closed in October, 1709, and razed, to the ground the year after. 

To Racine^ — writing in 1673, and therefore unacquainted with these 
facts — the argument could not occur, that God does not suffer Himself to 
be baffled by man, and that it is difficult to imagine Him interfering one 
day in support of a cause which, the next. He suflFers to go down before 
the efforts of its enemies. 

But here we approach a subject vailed from finite gaze, the intentions of 
the Infinite. We are as little justified in asserting that God had no special 
purpose in permitting an extraordinary phenomenon, which to the igno- 
rance of that day seemed a miracle, as in assuming to decide what that pur- 
pose may have been. 


suspended for the occasion a great law of nature, for the 
purpose of indorsing the five propositions of Jan- 
senius, of reprehending ci certain religious order, and 
of affording a momentary triumph to a few persecuted 

Similar errors have been of frequent occurrence. 
Perhaps the most striking example 'on record is con- 
tained in that extraordinary episode in the instructive 
history of the mental epidemics of Europe, the story 
of what have been called the Convulsionists of St. 
Medard. It is to this that Hume alludes, in a para- 
graph of the chaj^ter from which I have already quoted, 
when he says, — 

" There surely never was a greater number of miracles 
ascribed to one person than those which were lately said 
to have been wrought in France upon the tomb of the 
Abbe Paris, the famous Jansenist, with whose sanctity 
the people were so long deluded. The curing of the 
sick, giving hearing to the deaf and sight to the blind, 
were everywhere talked of as the usual effects of that 
holy sepulcher. But, what is more extraordinary, many 
of the miracles were immediately proved upon the spot, 
before judges of unquestioned integrity, attested by wit- 
nesses of credit and distinction, in a learned age, and on 
the most eminent theater that is now in the world. Xor 
is this all : a relation of them was published and dis- 
persed everywhere; nor were the Jesuits, though a 
learned body, supported by the civil magistrates, and 
determined enemies to those opinions in whose favor 
the miracles were said to have been wrought, ever able 
distinctly to refute or detect them. Where shall we find 
such a number of circumstances agreeing to the corro- 
boration of one fact ? And what have we to oppose to 
such a cloud of witnesses but the absolute impos- 
sibility or miraculous nature of the events which they 
relate ? And this, surely, in the eyes of all reason- 


86 Hume's imprudence. 

able peoj^le, will alone be regarded as a sufficient refuta- 

Hume here places himself in the category of those 
whom Arago considers deficient in prudence. He pro- 
nounces certain events to be impossible, because they 
are contrary to his experience. He is misled b}^ the 
pretensions Of those who relate them. The eminent 
mairistrate to w^hose elaborate work we are indebted for 
a narrative of the events in question (Carre de Mont- 
geron) assumes that they were brought about by the 
special intervention of God, exerted, at the intercession 
of the deceased Abbe, to sustain the cause of the Jan- 
senist i\ppellants and condemn the doctrines of the 
Bull Unigenitus.f Hume cannot admit the reason or 
justice of such pretensions. Nor can we. But here we 
must distinguish. It is one thing to refuse credit to the 
reality of the phenomena, and quite another to demur to 
the interpretation put upon them. "We may admit the 
existence of comets, yet deny that they portend the 

"* Hume's Essays, vol. ii. p. 133, 

t "La Verite des Ifiracles ojoeres j^ai' V intercession de M. de Paris et autres 
Appellans," par M. Carre de Montgeron, Conseiller au Parlement de Paris. 
3 A'ols. 4to, 2d ed., Cologne, 1745. 

I copy from the advertisement, p. 5 : — '^ II s'agit de miracles qui prouvent 
evidemment I'existence de Dieu et sa providence, la verite du Cliristianisme, 
la saintete do I'eglise Catholique, et la justice de la cause des Appellans de 
la buUe Unigenitus," 

The weight of evidence brought to bear, in this extraordinary work, in 
proof of each one of the chief miracles there sought to be established, Avould 
be sufficient, in a coui"t of justice, to convict twenty men. I doubt whether 
such an overwhelming mass of human testimony was ever before thrown 
together to sustain any class of contested facts. 

I had prepared, and had intended to give in the present volume, a chap- 
ter containing a condensed narrative of this marvelous epidemic, and the 
phenomena it brought to light; also to devote several other chapters to the 
details of other historical episodes somewhat similar in character. But the 
subject grew under my hands to such dimensions that I was compelled to 
exclude it. 


birth or death of heroes. The first is a question of fact, 
the second only of inference or imagination. 

This view of the case docs not appear to have sug- 
gested itself at the time either to friend or foe. The 
Jesuit inquisitors, unable to contest the facts, found 
nothing for it but to ascribe them to witchcraft and the 
devil, i^or did any better mode occur to them of re- 
futing Montgeron's work than to have it burned by the 
hands of the common hangman, on the 18th of Febru- 
ary, 1739. 

Modern science is more discriminating. The best 
medical writers on insanity and kindred subjects, after 
making due allowance for the exaggerations incident to 
the heat of controversialism, and for the inaccuracies 
into which an ignorance of physiology was sure to betra}'- 
inexperienced observers, still find sufiicient evidence 
remaining to prove, beyond cavil, the reality of cer- 
tain cures, and other wonderful phenomena exhibited; 
but they seek the explanation of these in natural 
causes.'^ They do not imagine that the Deity suspended 
the laws of nature in order to disprove a papal bull ; but 
neither do they declare, with Hume, the impossibility 
of the facts claimed to be miraculous. 

* Consult, for example, Dr. Calmeil's excellent work, " Be la Folic, con- 
sideree sons le point de vue 2^(if^"^logiqiie, 2)liilosojjhiqn€, liistorique, el. jndi- 
ciaire," 2 vols., Paris, 1S45. It will be found vol. ii. pp. .313 to 400, in the 
chapter entitled " Theomanie Extato- Convulsive paniii lea Jansenistes," \n 
which the subject is examined in detail, from a medical point of view, and 
natural explanations offered of the phenomena in question, many of which 
phenomena are of so astounding a character that Hume, ignorant as he was 
of the effects produced in somnambulism, during catalepsy, and in other 
abnormal states of the human system, may well be pardoned for his incre- 

Calraeil believes — and it seems probable enough — that these convulsions 
constituted a nervous malady of an aggravated character, probably hysteria 
complicated with ecstatic and cataleptic symptoms. He says, *'Des 1732, 
I'hysterie se compliqua de pheuomenes extatiques, de phenomenes catalep- 
tiformes." — Vol. ii. p. 395. 


A judgment similar to that which the Scottish his- 
torian, more than a century ago, passed on the miracles 
of St. Medard, is passed in our day, by a large majority 
of the world, on all alleged appearances or agencies of 
an ultramundane character. The common oj^inion is, 
that such things cannot happen except miraculously; 
that is, by special intervention of the Deity, and a tem- 
porary suspension by Him, in favor of certain persons, 
of one or more of the laws which govern the universe. 
And, as they cannot believe in miracles, they reject, un- 
examined, all evidence tending to establish the reality 
of such phenomena. 

I am not here asserting that such phenomena do 
occur. I am but adducing evidence for the opinion that, 
if they do, they are as much the result of natural law as 
is a rainbow or a thunder-clap. I am seeking to show 
cause to the believers in their existence why they should 
cease to attach to them any inkling of the supernatural. 

jSTumerous examples of these alleged phenomena will 
be found in succeeding chapters. Meanwhile, assuming 
for a moment the affirmative on this point, I might 
found, on mere general principles, an argument in con- 
nection with it. To a question naturally suggesting it- 
self, namely, to what end God permits (if He does per- 
mit) ultramundane intercourse, I might re2:)ly, that it is 
doubtless for a purpose as comprehensive as benevolent; 
that we may reasonably imagine Him to be opening up 
to our race a medium of'more certain knowledge of 
another world, in order to give fresh impulse to our 
onward progress toward wisdom and goodness in this, 
and more especiall}" to correct that absorbing worldli- 
ness, the besetting sin of the present age, creeping over 
its civilization and abasing its noblest aspirings. And, 
if these be admitted as rational surmises, I might go on 
to ask how we may suppose that God would be likely to 
carry out such an intent; — whether, after a partial and 


exceptional fashion, by an obtrusive suspension of His 
own laws for the benefit of a few favored children of 
preference, or, under the operation of the universal 
order of JSTature, to the common advantage of all His 
creatures, in silent impartiality and harmony, as He causes 
the morning sun to rise and the evening dews to fall. 

I might proceed a step further, and inquire w^iether, 
if such an extension of our earthly horizon enter into 
God's design, it can rationally be imagined that the 
Great Framer should find His purj)Ose thwarted by the 
laws Himself had framed ; or whether it does not far 
better comport with just ideas of God's omnipotence and 
omniprescience to conclude that, in the original adjust- 
ment of the Avorld's economy, such a contingency was 
foreseen and provided for, as surely as every other 
human need has been. 

Such arguments might not unfairly be made. Yet 
all a priori reasoning touching God's intentions, and the 
means we imagine He may select to effect these, seem 
to me hazarded and inconclusive. I think we do better 
to take note of God's doings than to set about conjec- 
turing His thoughts, which, Ave are told, are not as 
ours. It is safer to reason from our experience of His 
works than from our conceptions of His attributes ; for 
these are wrapj^ed in mystery, while those are spread 
open before us. 

I rest the case, therefore, not on the vagueness of 
general induction, but on the direct evidence of pheno- 
mena observed. That evidence will be adduced in its 
proper place. Suffice it for the present to ex^^ress my 
conviction, based on experimental proof, that, if the 
Deity is now permitting communication between mortal 
creatures in this stage of existence and disembodied 
spirits in another. He is employing natural causes and 
sjeneral laws to effect His object; not resorting for that 
purpose to the occasional and the miraculous. 

90 butler's and ttllotson's 


It will be evident, to the rofiecting reader, that the 
argument running through the preceding chapter ap- 
plies only in so far as we may accept the popular defini- 
tion of a miracle; the same adopted by Hume. Some 
able theologians have assumed a very different one; 
Butler, for example, in his well-known "Analog}' of Ee- 
ligion/' in which he favors a view of the subject not 
very dissimilar to that taken by myself. "There is a 
real credibility,'^ says he, "in the supposition that it 
might be part of the original plan of things that there 
should be miraculous interpositions." And he leaves it 
in doubt whether we ought " to call every thing in tho 
dispensations of Providence not discoverable without 
.Revelation, nor like the known course of things, mira- 

Another distinguished prelate s]»eaks more plainly 
Htill. In one of his sermons Archbishop Tillotson says, 
"It is not the essence of a miracle (as many have 
thought) that it be an immediate effect of the Divine 
Power, It is sufficient that it exceed any natural power 
that we know of to produce it."f 

This is totally changing the commonly-received defi- 
nition. If we are not to regard it as "the essence of a 
miracle that it be an immediate effect of the Divine 
Power," — if we may properly call any occurrence mira- 
culous which is not "like the known course of things," — 
if we may declare each and every phenomenon a miracle 
which "exceeds any natural power that we know of to 
produce it,^' — then it is evident that the miracle of one 
age may be the natural event of the succeeding. In 
this sense we are living, even now, among miracles. 

ISTor, if in this we follow Butler and Tillotson, are we 

* ''Analogy of Religion to the Constitution and Course of Nature," Part II., 
chap. 2. t Sermon CLXXXII. 


lit all iiiViilidaling the efficacy of the early Christian 
miracles. Their influence on the minds of men was the 
same whether they were the result of partial or of 
general laws. In point of fact, they did attract atten- 
tion and add force to the teachings of a system, the 
innate beauty and moral grandeur of which was insuffi- 
cient to recommend it to the semi-barbarism of the day. 
\Yhatever their character, they did their w^ork. And. 
the mistake as to that character, if mistake it is to be 
termed, may have been the very means ordained by 
Providence to cherish and advance, in its infancy, a 
religion of peace and good will sjDringing up in an age 
of war and discord. Nor, in one sense, was the error, 
if as such we are to regard it, one of essence, but rather 
of manner. The signs and wonders which broke in 
upon the indifference and awoke the belief of Jew and 
Gentile, whether they were produced by momentary 
suspension of law or by its preordained operation, were 
equally His work from whom all law proceeds. And 
shall we appreciate God's handiwork the less because, 
in the progress of His teachings, He gradually unfolds 
to us the mode in which He moves to perform it ? Then 
in heaven we should less venerate Him than upon earth. 

Is it an unreasonable surmise that it may be God's 
purpose to raise the vail of eighteen hundred years, in 
proportion as our eyes can bear the light; in proportion 
as our minds can take in the many things which Christ 
taught not, in His day, to those who could not bear 
them; in proportion as we are prepared to receive 
Christianity, for its intrinsic excellence and on its in- 
ternal evidence, without the aid of extraneous warrant? 

But I put forth these suggestions, touching, as they 
do, on matters beyond our ken, incidentally and hypo- 
thetically only. They are not essential to my argument, 
nor strictly included in its purpose; that being to treat 
of modern, not of ancient, miracles. 



** It may be said, speaking in strictness, that almost all our knowledge 
consists of possibilities only." — La Place: Theorie des ProhabilitSs, Introd. 
p. L 

In quest of truth there are two modes of proceeding : 
the one, to sit down, draw upon one's stock of precon- 
ceptions ; settle, before we enter upon an inquiry, what 
may be, or ought to be, or must be ; make to ourselves, 
in advance, what we call clear ideas of the naturally 
possible and impossible; then sally forth, armed against 
all non-conforming novelties, and with a fixed purpose 
to waste no time in their examination. The other plan, 
more modest and Baconian, is to step out into the 
world, eyes and ears open, an unpledged spectator, our 
fagot of opinions still unbound and incomplete; no such 
screen as a must be set up to prevent our seeing and 
hearing whatever presents itself; no ready-made impos- 
sibility prepared to rule out reliable testimony; no pre- 
judgment barring the way against evidence for impro- 

Few persons realize how arbitrary and unreliable may 
be the notions they keep on hand of the improbable. 
We laugh at Jack's mother, who, Avhen her sailor son 
sought to persuade her there were flying-fish, resented 
the attempt as an insult to her understanding, but 
accepted, unquestioned, the young rogue's story about 
one of Pharaoh's chariot-wheels brought up on the 
anchor-fluke from the bottom of the Eed Sea. Yet the 
old lady is one of a large class, numbering learned and 



lettered celebrities among its members, who have their 
flying-fish, insulting to the understanding, as well as she. 
These are a frequent phenomenon within the precincts 
of scientific academies and royal institutions. 

We forget, after a time, what have been the flying- 
fish of the past. It needs official reference to convince 
us now that for nearly half a century after Harvey's 
brilliant discovery the Paris Academy of Medicine 
listened to those who classed it among the impossibili- 
ties.'^ We have almost forgotten that, until the com- 
mencement of the present century, the old ladies of the 
scientific world rejected, as resentfully as their proto- 
type of the stor}^, all allegations going to prove the 
reality of aerolites.f 

Meteoric stones and the circulation of the blood have 
now lost their piscatory character, are struck off the 

* In the records of the Paris Royal Society of Medicine we read that, 
as late as the year 1672, a candidate for membership, Francois Bazin, sought 
to conciliate the favor of that learned body by selecting as bis theme the 
iinpossihlJity of the circulation of the blood ; {''ergo sanguinis motus circii- 
laris imjjossibilis.") Harvey had given to the world his great discovery in 
the year 1628, • but forty-four years sufficed not to procure for it the sanction 
of official medical authority in the French capital. 

f The fall of larger or smaller mineral masses, usually called meteoric 
stones, was long set down by the scientific world as among popular fables, 
notwithstanding the testimonj' of all antiquity in its favor. Stones alleged 
to have dropped from heaven were preserved in various ancient temples, as 
at Cybele. Plutarch, in his life of Lysander, describes a celebrated aerolite 
which fell in Thrace, near the mouth of the ^gos Potamos. But these and 
a hundred other analogous cases, recorded throughout the past, failed to 
dispel scientific incredulity, until Chladni, a naturalist of Wurtemberg, 
verified the fall of a meteorite at Sienna, in Tuscany, on the 16th of June, 
1794. His report of the marvel staggered the skepticism of many. Yet it 
was not till nine years afterward — when, to wit, on the 26th of April, 1803, 
an aerolite fell in broad daylight at L'Aigle, in Normandy — that all doubt 
was removed. The Paris Academy of Sciences appointed a commission to 
institute inquiries into this case; and their report settled the question. 
Howard, an English naturalist, afterward prepared a list of all the aerolites 
known to have fallen on our earth up to the year 1818; and Chladni con- 
tinued the list to the year 1824. 

94 A poet's logic. 

list of impossibilities, and inserted in the accredited 
catalogue of scientific truths. It used to be vulgar and 
ridiculous to admit them; now the vulgarity and ab- 
surdity consist in denying their existence. 

Mesmeric phenomena, on the other hand, are an 
exam^^le of improbabilities that have not yet j)assed 

'' When I was in Paris/' says Eogers, (the poet,) in his 
^^Table-Talk,'' "I went to Alexis, and desired him to de- 
scribe my house in St. James Place. On my word, he 
astonished me ! He described most exactly the pecu- 
liarities of the staircase ; said that not far from the 
window in the drawing-room there was a picture of a 
man in armor, (the painting by Giorgone,) and so on. 
Colonel Gurwood, shortly before his death, assured me 
that he was reminded by Alexis of some circumstances 
that had happened to him in Spain, and which he could 
not conceive how any human being except himself should 
know. Still, I cannot believe in clairvoyance, — because 
the thing is impossible."^ 

l^ot because the opportunities for observation were 
too few, and the experiments needed repetition: that 
would have been a valid objection. ISTot because the evi- 
dence was imperfect and lacked confirmation : Eogers's 
difficulty was a more radical one. JS^o evidence would 
sufiice. Fish cannot have wings : the thing is impos- 
sible. f 

■■■• Let us deal fairly by Science, and give her the credit of this quotation. 
I found it in the (London) Medical Times and Gazette, No. 444, new series; 
and the italics are not mine, but those of the medical editor. 

f Rogers evidently had never read La Place's celebrated work on Proba- 
bilities, or else he did not agree with its doctrine. Witness this passage : — 
" It is exceedingly unphilosophical to deny magnetic phenomena merely 
because they are inexplicable in the present state of our knowledge." — 
Calcul des Prohahilites, p. 348. 

It is remarkable enough that in a matter like this, usually deemed to 
savor of imagination, the mathematician should reprove the incredulity of 
the poet. 


An example of graver character and more influential 
effect is to be found in a lecture, delivered in 1854, at 
the Koyal Institution, before Prince Albert and a select 
audience, by England's first electrician. Eogers's flying- 
fish was clairvoyance; Faraday's is table-moving. 

But if great men fall into one extreme, let us not, for 
that reason, be betrayed into another. Let us bear in 
mind that, antecedent to suflScient proof adduced to es- 
tablish them, the circulation of the blood, the fall of me- 
teorites, the phenomena of clairvoyance, the reality of 
table-moving, — all are, or were, improbabilities. 

But there are few propositions to which the common 
sense of mankind, indorsing the most accredited scien- 
tific authority,^ assents more readily, or with greater 
justice, than this: that in proportion as an event or 
phenomenon is in its nature improbable is greater weight 
of evidence required to produce a rational belief in its 

The converse of this proposition, it is true, has been 
plausibly argued, sometimes where one would least ex- 
pect to find an apology for credulity ;f but men have been 
so frequently deceivers, and so much more frequently 
themselves deceived, that, when their testimony is ad- 
duced to prove something of a marvelous and unexampled 
nature, every dictate of experience warns us against its 
reception, except after severest scrutiny, or the concur- 
rence, when that can be had, of many disinterested 
witnesses, testifying independently of each other. 

The argument, however, in regard to the weight of 
evidence which may be procured through such concur- 
rence of testimony to one and the same fact, has, in my 

•;•; "Plus un fait est extraordinaire, plus il a besoin d'etre appuye de fortes 
preuves. Car ceux qui I'attestent pouvant ou tromper, ou avoir etc trompes, 
ces deux causes sont d'autant plus probables que la realite du fait Test moins 
tn elle-m^me." — La Place : Theoric analytiqne des Prohahilites, Introd. p. 12. 

t As in the French Encyclopedia, article "Certitude." 


judgment, sometimes been pushed beyond what it will 
bear. Where human testimony enters as an element 
into the calculation, its disturbing agency may be such 
as to weaken, almost to the point of overthrowing, the 
force of all strictly mathematical demonstration. 

Thus, in substance, has the argument been put.* 
Let us suppose two persons, A. and B., of such a cha- 
racter for veracity and clear-sightedness that the chances 
are that they will speak the truth, and will avoid being 
deceived, in nine cases out of ten. And let us suppose 
that these two persons, absolutely unknown to and un- 
connected with each other, are about to testify in regard 
to any fact. What are the chances that, if their testi- 
mony shall agree, the fact has happened? 

Evidently, a hundred to one. For if their testimony 
agree and the fact has not happened, there must be a 
concurrent lie or self-deception. But, as, in the first 
place, the chances are ten to one against A. lying or 
being deceived, and then, in the contingency that he 
should be, the chances are again ten to one against B. 
failing to relate the truth, it is evident that the chances 
against the double event are ten times ten (or one hun- 
dred) to one. 

Pursuing the same calculation, we find that, in the 
event of three such witnesses concurring, the chances 
are a thousand to one against the falsehood of their tes- 
timony; if four such concur, ten thousand to one; and so 
on. So that it requires but a small number of such wit- 
nesses to establish a degree of probability which, in 
practice, is scarcely short of certainty itself. 

* The reader may consult La Place's "Theo7'te analytiqne des Proha- 
hilitis," where all the calculations connected with this argument are given 
in detail; or, if unprepared for the difficulties of Calculus, he will find the 
matter set out in more condensed and popular form, by Babbage, in his 
"Ninth Brichjcnater Treatifie," 2d cd., pp. 124 to 131 ; and in Note E o{ 
Appendix to the same work. 


And, following out tliis principle, it will bo found 
that, if we can but procure witnesses of such a character 
that it is more probable that their testimony is true than 
that it is fixlse, we can always assign a sufficient number 
of such to establish the occurrence of any event or the 
reality of any phenomenon, no matter how improbable 
or marvelous such event or phenomenon, in itself con- 
sidered, may be. 

If the postulates be granted, these conclusions clearly 
follow; and they have been emploj^ed by Dr. Chalmers* 
and others, in treating of miracles, to illustrate the great 
accumulation of probability which arises from the con- 
currence of independent witnesses. 

The difficulty lies in the postulates. It seems, at 
first, a very easy matter to find witnesses of such mo- 
derate veracity and intelligence that we are justified 
in declaring it to be more probable that their testimony 
shall be true than that it shall be false. 

As to willful falsehood, the matter is beyond doubt. 
Let cynicism portray the world as it will, there is far 
more of truth than of falsehood in it. But as to free- 
dom from self-deception, that is a condition much more 
difficult to obtain. It depends to a great extent upon 
the nature of the event witnessed or the phenomenon 

An extreme case may assure us of this. If two in- 
dependent witnesses of good character depose to having 
seen a market-woman count out six dozen eggs from 
a basket which was evidently of capacity sufficient to 
contain them, we deem the fact sufficiently proved. 
But if two thousand witnesses of equally good character 
testify that they saw Signor Blitz or Eobert-Houdin 
take that number of eggs out of an ordinary-sized hat, 
they fail to convince us that the hat really contained 

* ''Evidences of Ohrietian Revelation," vol. i. p. 129. 
G 9 


tliem. We conclude that they were deceived by sleight 
of hand. 

Here, therefore, the postulates must be rejected. And, 
without speaking of mathematical impossibilities, in re- 
gard to which, of course, no imaginable number of con- 
current witnesses avail in proof, the character of the 
event or phenomenon testified to must ever count for 
much; and, whatever theorists may say, it will always 
greatly influence our opinion, not perhaps of the 
honesty, but of the freedom from delusion, of the testi- 
fiers. So that, in a case where proof of some marvel is 
in question, the assumed condition, namely, that we 
shall find witnesses whom we believe mor6 likely to 
speak the truth than to lie or be deceived, may not be 
capable of fulfillment. 

And the difficulty of procuring such may, under cer- 
tain circumstances, greatly increase. There are mental 
as well as physical epidemics, and during their preva- 
lence men's minds may be so morbidly excited, and 
their imaginations so exalted, that entire masses may 
become incapacitated to serve as dispassionate witnesses. 

There is another consideration, noticed by Hume in 
his chapter on Miracles, which should not be over- 
looked. "Though we readily reject,'' says he, "any 
fact which is unusual and incredible in an ordinary de- 
gree, yet, in advancing further, the mind observes not 
always the same rule." We sometimes accept, he 
thinks, a statement made to us, for the very reason 
which should cause us to reject it; on account of its 
nltra-marvelous character The reason is shrewdly 
assigned: — "The passion of surprise and wonder arising 
from miracles, being an agreeable emotion, gives a 
sensible tendency toward the belief of those events 
from which it is derived."* In a word, we should be on 

* Hume's Essays, vol. ii. p. 125. 


our guard against that love of the marvelous which we 
find inherent in our nature. 

These and similar considerations will ever weigh with 
the prudent and reflecting observer. Yet it is to be 
conceded, that the principle above referred to, of the 
vast accumulation of evidence from the concurrence of 
reliable witnesses, is not only just, mathematically con- 
sidered, but, in a variety of cases, strictly applies in 

If we find, for instance, at different periods of the 
world and in various nations, examples constantly re- 
curring of men testifymg to certain phenomena of the 
same or a similar character, then, though these alleged 
phenomena may seem to us highly improbable, we are 
not justified in ascribing the concurrence of such testi- 
mony to chance. We are not justified in setting down 
the whole as idle superstition; though in these modern 
daj^s it is very much the fashion of the world, proud 
of having outgrown its nursery-tales, so to do. Dis- 
gusted by detecting a certain admixture of error and folly, 
we often cast aside an entire class of narrations as wholly 
baseless and absurd; forgetting that when, at remote 
periods, at distant points, without possibility of collusion, 
there spring up, again and again, the same or similar ap- 
pearances, such coincidence ought to suggest to us the 
probability that something more enduring than delu- 
sion may be mixed in to make up the producing cause.* 

* "Take any one of what are called popular errors or popular supersti- 
tions, and on looking at it thoroughly we shall be sure to discover in it a 
firm, underlying stratum of truth. There may be more than we suspected 
of folly and of fancy; but when these are stripped off there remains quite 
enough of that stiif, unyielding material which belongs not to persons or 
periods, but is common to all ages, to puzzle the learned and silence the 
scoffer." — RuTTER : Human Electricifi/, Appendix, p. vii. 

To the same effect is the expression of a celebrated French philosopher: — 
"In every error there is a kernel of truth: let us seek to detach that 
kernel from the envelop that hides it from our eyes." — Bailly. 


It is truth only that is tenacious of life, and that rises, 
with recurring effort, throughout the lapse of ages, 
elastic under repression and contempt. 

Let us take, as an example, that description of popular 
stories which relate to haunted houses, the universal pre- 
valence of which is admitted by those who the most 
ridicule the idea that they prove any thing save the folly 
and credulity of mankind.* Is it the part of Philosophy 
contemptuously to ignore all evidence that may present 
itself in favor of the reality of such alleged disturb- 

It may be freely conceded, that for many of the 
stories in question no better foundation can be found 
than those panic terrors which are wont to beset the 
ignorant mind ; that others, doubtless, are due to a 
mere spirit of mischief seeking to draw amusement 

* "Who has not either seen or heard of some house, shut up and unin- 
habitable, fallen into decay and looking dusty and dreary, from which at 
midnight strange sounds have been heard to issue, — aerial knockings, 
the rattling of chains and the groaning of perturbed spirits? — a house that 
people have thought it unsafe to pass after dark, that has remained for 
years without a tenant, and which no tenant would occupy, even were he 
paid to do so? There are hundreds of such houses in England at the pre- 
sent day, hundreds in France, Germany, and almost every country of 
Europe; which are marked with the mark of feai', — places for the pious to 
bless themselves at, and ask protection from, as they pass, — the abodes of 
ghosts and evil spirits. There are many such houses in London; and if 
any vain boaster of the march of intellect would but take the trouble to 
find them out and count them, he would be convinced that intellect must 
yet make some enormous strides before such old superstitions can be eradi- 
cated." — 3fackay's Popular Delusions, vol. ii. p. 113. The author does not 
deem the hypothesis that there is any thing real in such phenomena worth 
adverting to, even as among possible things. 

Nor was the idea of haunted houses less commonly received in ancient 
times than among us. Plautus has a comedy entitled Ilostellaria, from a 
specter said to have shown itself in a certain house, which on that account 
was deserted. The particular story may have been invented by the dra- 
matist; but it suflBces to indicate the antiquity of the idea. — PlauU Mostelf., 
Act ii. V. 67. 


from these very terrors; and, finally, that there are 
instances where the mystification may have covered 
graver designs.* But because there are counterfeits, is 
there therefore no true coin? May there not be ori- 
ginals to these spurious copies ? 

In another part of this work I shall bring up the cvi- 

* One such is related by Garinet, in his "Histoire de la Macjie en 
France," (p. 75;) a clever trick played oflF by certain monks on that king 
whose piety has procured for him the title of " The Saint." 

Having heard his confessor speak in high terms of the goodness and 
learning of the monks of St. Bruno, the king expressed a desire to found a 
community of them near Paris. Bernard de la Tour, the superior, sent six 
of the brethren; and Louis assigned to them, as residence, a handsome 
dwelling in the village of Chantilly. It so happened that from their win- 
dows they had a fine view of the old palace of Vauvert, originally erected 
for a royal residence by King Robert, but which had been deserted for 
years. The worthy monks, oblivious of the tenth commandment, may 
have thought the place would suit them; but ashamed, probably, to make 
a formal demand of it from the king, they seem to have set their wits to 
work to procure it by stratagem. At all events, the palace of Vauvert, 
which had never labored under any imputation against its character till 
they became its neighbors, began, almost immediately afterward, to ac- 
quire a bad name. Frightful shrieks were heard to proceed thence at 
night; blue, red, and green lights were seen to glimmer from its case- 
ments and then suddenly disappear. The clanking of chains succeeded, 
together with the bowlings of persons as in great pain. Then a ghastly 
specter, in pea-green, with long, white beard and serpent's tail, appeared at 
the principal windows, shaking his fists at the passers-by. This went on 
for months. The king, to whom of course all these wonders were duly re- 
ported, deplored the scandal, and sent commissioners to look into the afi"air. 
To these the six monks of Chantilly, indignant that the devil should play 
such pranks before their very faces, suggested that if they could but have 
the palace as a residence they would undertake speedily to clear it of all 
ghostly intruders. A deed, with the royal sign-manual, conveyed Vauvert 
to the monks of St. Bruno. It bears the date of 1259. From that time all 
disturbances ceased; the green ghost, according to the creed of the pious, 
being laid to rest forever under the waters of the Red Sea. 

Another instance, occurring in the Chateau d'Arsillier, in Picardy, will 
be found in the " Causes Celebres," vol. xi. p. 374 ; the bailiff having 
dressed himself up as a black phantom, with horns and tail, and guaran- 
teed himself against the chance of a pistol-shot by a buffalo's hide fitted 
tightly to his body. lie was finally detected, and the cheat exposed. 



dences which present themselves to one who seriously 
seeks an answer to the above queries.* Let those who 
may decide, in advance, that the answer is not worth 
seeking, be reminded that there are twenty allegations 
which are worthy to be examined, for every one that 
may be unhesitatingly received. 

Again, there is a class of phenomena, as widely 
spread as the disturbances above alluded to, — probably 
somewhat allied to them, but more important than 
they, — to which the same principle in regard to the 
concurrence of testimony in various ages and countries 
eminently applies; those strange appearances, namely, 
which, for lack of a more definite term, may be grouped 
together as inesmeric. 

Without seeking, amid the obscurity of remote an- 
tiquity, a clew to all that we read of the so-called 
Occult Arts, — as among the magicians of Egypt, the 
soothsayers and diviners of Judea, the sibyls and 
oracles of Greece and Home,'}' — we shall find, in later 
times, but commencing long before the appearance of 
Mesmer, a succession of phenomena, with resem- 
blance sufficient to substantiate their common origin, 
and evidently referable to the same "unexplained and 
hidden causes, operating during an abnormal state 
of the human s^^stem, whence spring the various 
phases of somnambulism and other analogous mani- 
festations, physical and mental, observed by animal 

Time after time throughout the psycho-medical his- 

* See further on, under title " Disturhances popularly termed Hauntinga." 

f The curious in such matters may consult the ''Geschichte der Ilagie," 
by Dr. Joseph Ennemoser, Leipzig, 1844, — of which, if he be not familiar 
■with German, he will find an English translation, by William Howitt, 
''History of Magic" London, 1854. 

Also, the "Cradle of the Twin Giants, Science and History," by the Tlev. 
Henry Christmas, M.A., F.R.S., F.S.A., London, 1849, 

Both are works of great research. 


tory of the Middle Ages and of modern Europe — some- 
times among Catholics, sometimes among Protestants 
— recur these singular episodes in the history of the 
human mind, usually epidemical in their character 
while they last, each episode, however, independent of 
the others and separated from them widely by time 
and place; all narrated by writers who take the most 
opposite views of their nature and causes, yet all, no 
matter by whom narrated, bearing a family likeness, 
which appears the more striking the more closely they 
are studied. 

Examples are numerous: as the alleged obsession 
(1632 to 1639) of the Ursuline Nuns of Loudun, with 
its sequel, in 1642, among the Sisters of St. Elizabeth 
at Louviers; the mental aberrations of the Prophets or 
Shakers (Trembleurs) of the Cevennes, (1686 to 1707,) 
caused by the persecutions which followed the revoca- 
tion of the Edict of Kantes; and the pseudo-miracles 
of the Convulsionists of St. Medard (1731 to 1741) at 
the tomb of the Abbe Paris.* 

All this occurred, it will be observed, before the very 
name of Animal Magnetism was known, or any natural 
explanation of these strange manifestations was sus- 
pected; at a time when their investigation was con- 
sidered the province of the ecclesiastical tribunals, not 

* For details touching the disturbances at Loudun, consult "La De~ 
monomanie de Loudun," hj La Fl^che, 1634; " Cruels Effeta de la Ven- 
geance du Cardinal de RicTielieu ; on, Histoire des Diahles de Loudun," Am- 
sterdam, 1693; " Examen et Discussions Critiques de V Histoire des Diahles 
de Loudun," by M. de la Menardaye, Paris, 1747; "Histoire Abregee de la 
Possession des Ursulines de Loudun," by the Pere Tissot, Paris, 1S28. For 
those of Louviers, see " Reponse d, V Examen de la Possession des Reliyieuses 
de Louviers," Rouen, 1643. As to the Prophets of the Cevennes, see 
"Theatre Sacre des Cevennes," by M. Misson, London, 1707; "An Account 
of the French Projyhets and their Pretended Insjnrations," London, 1708; 
"Histoire des Troubles des Cevennes," by M. Court, Alais, 1819. The works 
on the St. Medard disturbances are elsewhere noticed. 


of the medical profession or of the psychological in- 

And for that very reason, inasmuch as many of the 
phenomena in question, and running through almost 
all the above examples, resemble, more or less closely, 
others alleged to have been observed by modern mag- 
netizers, the remarkable concurrence of testimony 
among the narrators in regard to these becomes the 
more convincing of the reality, in some shape or other, 
of the facts narrated. 

For, as soon as we find, in a succession of examples, 
a class of phenomena, no matter how extraordinary or 
inexplicable they may seem, the chance of their being 
genuine is very greatly increased. A phenomenon may 
be deemed improbable so long as it appears to be the 
only one of its class. But so soon as we have grouped 
around it others similar in nature, we have brought to 
bear one of the strongest arguments to sustain the pro- 
bability of its existence. 

But, besides the inherent probability or improbability 
of any alleged phenomenon, and besides the general con- 
siderations, universally admitted, touching the number 
and concurrence of witnesses, their usual character for 
veracity, their freedom from interest in what they 
affirm, — besides all this, the manner of each individual 
deposition or narration has, very properly, much to do 
with the confidence we repose in the narrator. There 
is, if the testimony be oral, a look and an accent of 
truth, which inspires instinctive confidence. And 
though in a written statement simulation is easier, yet 
even in that case an air of candor, or a sense of the 
lack of it, commonly attaches so strongly to an author's 
writing, that we are enabled, if we have some experience 
of the world, to form a shrewd judgment in regard to 
his honesty of purpose. 


Modesty and moderation in narrative justly enlist our 
credence. We incline to l/elieve most that which is least 
arrogantly asserted. Earnestness of conviction in the 
testifier is, indeed, necessary to produce a corresponding 
confidence in his audience; but no two things are more 
distinct than earnestness and dogmatism. We lose trust 
in a man who, if you will but take his own word for it, 
is always in the right, — who makes no calculation that 
is not verified, attempts no experiment that does not 
succeed. A partial failure often inspires us with more 
confidence than a complete success. 

'Nor does it materially weaken the probability of an 
observation in itself reliable, that some other experi- 
mentalists in search of similar results have not yet 
obtained them. One successful experiment, sufiiciently 
attested, is not to be rebutted by twenty unsuccessful 
ones. It cannot disprove what I have seen that others 
have not seen it. The conditions of success may be 
difiicult and precarious, especially where living beings 
are the subjects of experiment. And even as to inani- 
mate substances, there is not a naturalist who has 
reached at last some important discovery who ma}^ not 
have failed a hundred times on the road to it. If even 
numerous intelligent observers report unobtained results, 
their negative testimony, unless it approach universality, 
can amount to no more than an adverse presumption, 
and may only prove the rarity of the quested pheno- 

* In a subsequent portion of this work (on ''Disturbances i^opularly 
termed Hauntings") will be found a notice of Glanvil's celebrated story 
usually entitled "The Drummer of Tedworth." It attracted so much at- 
tention at the time that the king sent some gentlemen of his court to 
examine into the matter, who spent a night in the house reputed to be 
haunted, but heard nothing; and this has been adduced as a complete refuta- 
tion of the narrative. Glanvil (in the third edition of his " Sadducismua 
Triumphatus" p. 337) justly remarks thereon, — 

*' 'Tis true, that when the gentlemen the king sent were there the house 


If to some it seem that this remark is so evident as 
scarcely to be needed^ emineirt examples can be adduced 
to show that it touches upon an error to which men are 
sufficiently prone. 

On the 28th of February, 1826, a commission was ap- 
pointed from among its members by the Eoj^al Academy 
of Medicine, of Paris, to examine the subject of Animal 
Magnetism. After an investigation running through 
more than five years, to wit, on the 21st of June, 1831, 
this commission reported, through their president. Dr. 
Husson, at great length, in favor of the reality of certain 
somnambulic phenomena; among them, insensibility, 
vision with the eyes closed, prescience during sickness, 
and, in one case, perception of the diseases of others : 
the report being signed unanimously. Some yeax'S 
later, namely, on the 14th of February, 1837, the same 
Academy appointed a second commission for the same 
purpose; and they, after nearly six months, (on the 7th 
of August, 1837,) rejoorted, also unanimously, through 
their chairman, Br. Dubois, expressing their conviction 
that not one of these phenomena had any foundation 
except in the imagination of the observers. They 
reached this conclusion by examining two somnambules 

was quiet, and nothing seen or heard that night, which was confidently and 
with triumph urged by many as a confutation of the story. But 'twas bad 
logic to conclude in matters of fact from a single negative, and such a one 
against numerous afiirmatives, and sa affirm that a thing was never done 
because not at such a particular time, and that nobody ever saw what this 
man or that did not. By the same way of reasoning, I may infer that there 
were never any robberies done on Salisbury Plain, Hounslow Heath, or the 
other noted places, because I have often traveled all those ways, and yet 
was never robbed; and the Spaniard inferred well that said, 'There was no 
sun in England, because he had been six weeks there and never saw it.'" 

Glanvil properly reminds us that " the disturbance was not constant, but 
intermitted sometimes several days, sometimes weeks." Under these cir- 
cumstances, it is quite evident that its non-appearance during a single night 
proves nothing. 


Dr. Hiisson, commenting before the Academy* on the 
conclusions of this last report, truly observes that "the 
negative experiences thus obtained can never destroy 
the positive facts observed by the j^revious commission ; 
since, though diametrically oj^posed to each other, both 
may be equally true."-!" 

It is a fact curious, and worth noticing in this con- 
nection, that the same dogmatic skepticism which often 
acts as a clog to advancement in knowledge may be 
betrayed, in certain contingencies, into an error the very 

For there are some men who run from the excess 
of unbelief to the extreme of credulity. Once convinced 
of their error iu obstinately denying one startling fact, 
they incontinently admit, not that only, but twenty 
other allegations, unchallenged, in its company. They 
defend to the last extremity the outer line of fortifi- 
cation ; but, that once forced, they surrender, without 
further effort, the entire citadel. '^ Such," says Buffon, 
"is the common tendency of the human mind, that 
when it has once been impressed by a marvelous object 
it takes pleasure in ascribing to it 2:)roperties that are 
chimerical, and often absurd." Against this temptation 
we should be constantly on our guard. 

There remains to be touched upon, in connection with 
the observation of phenomena in themselves improbable, 
a consideration of some importance. To what extent, 
and under what circumstances, is it reasonable to dis- 
trust the evidence of our senses ? 

There are a hundred examples of the manner in which 

* During their session of August 22, 1837. M. Husson's discourse is 
reported verbatim in Ricard's '' Traite du Magnetiame animal," precis his- 
torique, pp. 144 to 164. 

f I forget who relates the anecdote of a clown who proposed to rebut the 
testimony of a trustworthy gentleman, who had sworn to the use of certain 
language, by producing ten men to swear that they had not heard it. 


one or other of our senses may, for the time, testify 
only to deceive us.* The most familiar, perhaps, are 
what are usually termed conjuring tricks. Those who, 
like myself, have sat through an evening with Eobert- 
Houdin, preserve, probably, a vivid recollection how 
that wonderful artist enacted what seemed sheer impos- 
sibilities, before the very eyes of his mystified audience. 
But this was on his own theater, with months or years 
to prepare its hidden machinery and manufacture its 
magical apparatus; with the practice of a lifetime, too, 
to perfect his sleight of hand. There is little analogy 
between such professional performances and phenomena 
presenting themselves spontaneously, or at least with- 
out calculated preparation, in the privacy of a dwelling- 
house, or in the oj^en air, often to persons who neither 
expect nor desire them. 

But there suggests itself, further, the contingency of 
halkicination. This subject will be treated of in a sub- 
sequent chapter.f Suffice it here to say that, according 
to the doctrine contained in the most accredited works 
on the subject, iftwo or more persons, using their senses 
independently, perceive, at the same time and place, the 
same appearance, it is not hallucination ; that is to say, 
there is some actual foundation for it. Both may, indeed, 

* Each sense may, in turn, mislead us. We are constantly impressed 
with the conviction that the moon just after it rises appears of a greater 
magnitude than when seen on the" meridian. Yet if, by means of a frame 
with two threads of fine silk properly adjusted, we measure the moon's 
apparent magnitude on the horizon and again on the meridian, we shall 
find them the same. So of the sense of touch. If, while the eyes are 
closed, two fingers of the same hand, being crossed, be placed on a table, 
and a single marble, or pea, be rolled between them, the impression will be 
that two marbles, or two peas, are touched. 

A popular review of the fallacies of the senses will be found in Lardner's 
*' Museum of Science and Art," vol. i. pp. 81 to 96. 

t See Chapter 1 of Book IV., on "Appearances commonly called Appa- 


mistake one thing for another; t)ut there is something to 

On the other hand, if but one person perceive some 
prodigy, it may be a pure hallucination only, especially 
if the person be under the influence of great agitation 
or of a nervous system unduly excited. If such a person 
perceive what others around him do not, it may be taken 
as imma facie evidence that he is the subject of halluci- 
nation. Yet we can imagine circumstances that would 
rebut such a presumption. If, for example, it should be 
satisfactorily proved, in any given case, that a certain 
appearance, perceived by one witness only out of many 
present, conveyed to that witness, with unmistakable 
accuracy, correct information touching the distant or 
the future, which it was impossible by ordinary means 
to acquire, we should needs conclude that there was 
something other than hallucination in the case. The 
alleged second-sight in Scotland, and especially in the 
island of Skye,* if perfectly authenticated in any one 

•■• The curious will find many details of the pretensions touching the 
Scottish second-sight, and particularly in the Hebrides, recorded in '^ De- 
scription of the Western Islands of Scotland," by M. Martin, London, 1706. 
The author regards this phenomenon as sufficiently proved, especially 
among the inhabitants of the island of Skye. He alleges that the gift of 
second-sight is usually hereditary ; that animals are wont to distinguish, 
at the same time as the seer, the apparition which he alone of all the human 
beings present perceives, and to be violently affected by it. He adds that 
the gift seems endemical, since natives of Skye noted as seers, if they pass 
into a distant country, lose the power, but recover it as soon as they return 
to their native land. 

The subject is mentioned, also, in Dr. Johnson's "Journey to the Western 
Islands of Scotland," p. 247, and in Boswell's '^Journal of a Tour to the 
Hebrides with Samuel Johnson," 1785, p. 490. 

» Schefier, too, in his History of Lapland, adduces various examples which 
he considers as indicating the existence of second-sight among the people 
of that country. But it appears to differ in its form from the second-sight 
of Scotland, and more nearly to approach somnambulism ; for the seer is, 
according to Scheflfer, plunged into a deep sleep, or letharg}', during which 
his prophecies are uttered. See his work translated from the original Latin 



example where chance prediction or conjecture could 
not be imagined, would be a case in point. Beyond all 
question, however, such cases ought to be scrupulously 
scanned. That one unlikely prediction, for instance, 
should be fulfilled, while a hundred fail, may be a rare 
coincidence, only, fairly to be ascribed to what we call 
chance. Cicero relates that Diagoras, when at Samo- 
thrace, being shown in a temple, as evidence of the 
j^ower of the god there adored, the numerous votive 
offerings of those who, having invoked his aid, were 
saved from shipwreck, asked how many persons, not- 
withstanding such invocation, had perished.* Predic- 
tions, however, may be of such a nature, and so circum- 
stantial in their details, that the probabilities against 
their accidental fulfillment suffice to preclude altogether 
that supposition. 

In a general way, it may be said that where a pheno- 
menon observed by several persons, however extraordi- 
nary and unexampled it may be, is of a plain and evi- 
dent character, palpable to the senses, especially to the 
sight, we are not justified in distrusting the evidence of 
sense in regard to it.f 

Suppose, for example,^ that, sitting in one's own well- 
lighted apartment, where no concealed machinery or 
other trickery is possible, in company with three or four 

into Frencli by the Geographer of the King, and entitled " Histoire de La- 
ponie," Paris, 1778, vol. iv. p. 107 ei seq. 

"* Cicero " De natura deorum," lib. iii. 

f It is the remark of a distinguished theologian, "In some circumstances 
our senses may deceive us ; but no faculty deceives us so little or so seldom; 
and when our senses do deceive us, even that error is not to be corrected 
without the help of our senses." — TiUotson's Works, Sermon XXVI. 

J The case supposed is not an imaginary one. It occurred in my apart- 
ments at Naples, on the 11th of March, 1856, and, with slight variations, on 
two subsequent occasions. I had the table and the lamp which were used 
on these occasions weighed. The weight of the former was seventy-six 
pounds and of the latter fourteen, — together, ninety pounds. 


friends, all curious observers like oneself, around a large 
center-table, weighing eighty or a hundred pounds, the 
hands of all present resting upon it, one should see and 
feel this table, the top maintaining its horizontal, rise 
suddenly and unexpectedly to the height of eight or ten 
inches from the floor, remain suspended in the air while 
one might count six or seven, then gently settle down 
again; and suppose that all the spectators concurred in 
their testimony as to this occurrence, with only slight 
variations of opinion as to the exact number of inches 
to which the table rose and the precise number of 
seconds during which it remained suspended: ought the 
witnesses of such a seeming temporary suspension of the 
law of gravitation to believe that their senses are play- 
ing them false ? 

Mr. Faraday says that, unless they do, they are not 
only "ignorant as respects education of the judgment," 
but are also " ignorant of their ignorance."* An edu- 
cated judgment, he alleges, knows that " it is imjDOSsible 
to create force." But " if we could, by the fingers, draw 
a heavy piece of wood upward without effort, and then, 
letting it sink, could produce, by its gravity, an effort 
equal to its weight, that would be a creation of power, 

* The assertion occurs in Mr. Faraday's lecture at the Royal Institution, 
already referred to, delivered on the 6th of May, 1S54. It may be supposed 
to embody the author's deliberate opinion, since, after five years, it is re- 
published by him in his " Experimental Researches in ChewAstrij and Phy- 
sics," London, 1859. The passage quoted, with its essential context, is as 
follows : — 

"You hear, at the present day, that some persons can place their fingers 
on a table, and then, elevating their hands, the table will rise and follow 
them ; that the piece of furniture, though heavy, will ascend, and that their 
hands bear no weight, or are not drawn down to the wood." ..." The 
assertion finds acceptance in every rank of society, and among classes that 
are esteemed to be educated. Now, what can this imply but that society, 
generally speaking, is not only ignorant as respects the education of the 
judgment, but is also ignorant of its ignorance ?" — p. 470. 

112 Faraday's idea 

and cannot be."^ His conclusion is, that tables never 
rise. The thing is impossible. 

That is a very convenient short-cut out of a difficulty. 
The small objection is, that the facts are opposed to it. 
It is all very well for Mr. Faraday to bid the witnesses 
carry with them an educated judgment. The recom- 
mendation does not reach the case. Unless this edu- 
cated judgment could persuade them that they did not 
see what they actually saw and did not feel w^hat they 
actually felt, it would certainly never convince them, as 
Mr. Faraday proposes it should, that what haj)pened 
before their eyes cannot be. 

They might very properly doubt whether what they 
saw and felt was a suspension of a law universal as that 
of gravitation. They would do quite wrong in assert- 
ing, as Mr. Faraday takes it for granted they must, that 
" by the fingers they draw a heavy piece of wood up- 
ward without effort :''-f that might be mistaking the post 

* Wo)'Ic cited, p. 479. The italics are Faraday's. 

That gentleman is among the number of those who believe that ''before 
we proceed to consider any question involving physical principles, we should 
set out with clear ideas of the naturally possible and impossible." — p. 478. 
But it avails nothing to set out with what we cherish as clear ideas, if on 
the way we encounter phenomena which disprove them. Mr. Faraday is one 
of those imprudent persons spoken of by Arago. (See motto to chap. ii. 
Book I.) 

f The imposition of hands is not a necessary condition. In the dining- 
room of a French nobleman, the Count d'Ourches, residing near Paris, I 
saw, on the 1st day of October, 185^, in broad daylight, at the close of a 
dejeuner a lafourchette, a dinner-table seating seven persons, with fruit and 
wine on it, rise and settle down, as already described, while all the guests 
were standing around it, and not one of them touching it at all. All present 
saw the same thing. Mr. Kyd, son of the late General Kyd, of the British 
army, and his lady, told me (in Paris, in April, 1859) that, in December of 
the year 1857, during an evening visit to a friend, who resided at No. 28 
Rue de la Ferme des Mathurins, at Paris, Mrs. Kyd, seated in an arm- 
chair, suddenly felt it move, as if some one had laid hold of it from beneath. 
Then slowly and gradually it rose into the air, and remained there sus- 
pended for the space of about thirty seconds, the lady's feet being four or 


hoc for the propter hoc. All thej would be justified in 
saying is, that they placed their hands on the table, 
and the table rose. 

If still Mr. Faraday should reply that it did not rise, 
because it could not, he would afford an eminent exam- 
ple of a truth as old as the days of Job, that "great men 
are not always wise." That which does happen can 
happen ; and the endeavor by argument to persuade 
men to the contrary is labor lost. 

I make no assertion that tables are raised by spiritual 
agency. But suppose Mr. Faraday, by disproving every 
other hypothesis, should drive one to this :* it would be 

five feet from, the ground; then it settled down gently and gradually, so that 
there was no shock when it reached the carpet. No one was touching the 
chair when it rose, nor did any one approach it while in the air, except Mr. 
Kyd, who, fearing an accident, advanced and touched Mrs. Kyd. The room 
was at the time brightly lighted, as a French salon usually is ; and of the 
eight or nine persons present all saw the same thing, in the same way. I 
took notes of the above, as Mr. and Mrs. Kyd narrated to me the occur- 
rence ; and they kindly permitted, as a voucher for its truth, the use of 
their names. 

Here is no drawing up of a heavy object, without effort, with the fingers, 
the concomitant which Mr. Faraday speaks of as indispensable. And the 
phenomenon occurred in a private drawing-room, among persons of high 
social position, educated and intelligent. Thousands, in the most enlight- 
ened countries of the world, can testify to the like. Are they all to be 
spoken of as " ignorant of their ignorance" ? 

* He scorns the idea. In his letter on Table-Turning, published in the 
London " Times" of June 30, 1853, he says, " The effect produced by table- 
turners has been referred to electricity, to magnetism, to attraction, to some 
unknown or hitherto unrecognized physical power able to affect inanimate 
bodies, to the revolution of the earth, and even to diabolical or supernatural 
agency. The natural philosopher can investigate all these supposed causes 
but the last : that must, to him, be too much connected with credulity or 
superstition to requii-e any attention on his part." — Work cited, p. 382. 

This is a summary and convenient disclaimer, — more convenient than 
satisfactory. Mr. Faraday thinks of ultramundane agency as Hume did of 
miracles, that "supported by human testimony it is more properly a subject 
of derision than of argument." The time is coming when, in this world 
or another, he may discover his mistake. 
H 10* 


much more philosophical to adopt it than to reject the 
clear and palpable evidence of sense. 

For, if we assume any other principle, all received 
rules of evidence must be set at naught;* nay, our very 
lives would be made up of uncertainty and conjecture. 
We might begin to doubt the most common events of 
daily occurrence,f and perhaps, at last, to dream, with 
Berkeley, that the external world exists only in our 
sensations. Indeed, if the senses of an entire commu- 
nity of men were to concur in imposing on them unreal 
sights and sounds, appearing to all the same, who would 
there be to declare it a delusion, and what means would 
remain to prove it such? 

Nor is it irrational to trust the evidence of our senses 
in cases so marvelous that we may reject hearsay testi- 
mony of an ordinary character when brought to prove 

* The reader will find in Reid's excellent work on the Mind [Essay 2, 
" PerceiAion") some remarks much in point. He says, " No judge will 
ever suppose that witnesses may be imposed upon by trusting to their eyes 
and ears ; and if skeptical counsel should plead against the testimony of 
witnesses that they had no other evidence for what they declared but the 
testimony of their eyes and ears, and that we ought not to put so much faith 
in our senses as to deprive men of life and fortune upon their testimony, 
surely no upright judge would admit a plea of this kind. I believe no 
counsel, however skeptical, ever dared to offer such an argument; and if it 
were offered it would be rejected with disdain." 

f The legal records of the Middle Ages furnish examples, scarcely credi- 
ble, of such skepticism. During the thousand trials for witchcraft which 
occurred in France throughout the s-ixteenth century, the women suspected 
were usually accused of having joined the witches' dance at midnight under 
a blasted oak. " The husbands of several of these women (two of them 
were young and beautiful) swore positively that, at the time stated, their 
wives were comfortably asleep in their arms ; but it was all in vain. Their 
word was taken ; but the archbishop told them they were deceived by the 
devil and their o^vn senses. It is true they might have had the semblance 
of their wives in their beds, but the originals were far away at the devil's 
dance under the oak." — Ilackay's Popular Delusions ; chapter on tlie Witch' 


them. ^^ I must sec that to believe it/' is often the ex- 
j)ression of no unreasonable scruple.* 

La Place puts the case, that we should not trust the 
testimony of a person who would allege that, having 
thrown a hundred dice into the air, they all fell with the 
same side up; while if we saw the thing happen, and 
carefully inspected the dice, one after the other, we should 
cease to doubt the fact. He says, "After such an exa- 
mination we should no longer hesitate to admit it, not- 
withstanding its extreme improbability; and no one 
would be tempted, by way of explaining it, to resort to 
the hypothesis of an illusion caused by an infraction of 
the laws of vision. Hence we may conclude that the 
probability of the constancy of natural laws is, for us, 
greater than the probability that the event referred to 
should not occur." 

So it may be, fiiirly enough, as to the phenomena 
witnessed by myself and others, to which allusion 
has just been made; the moving, namely, without ap- 
parent physical agency, of tables and other material 
substances. These are of a character so extraordinary, 
that the evidence of testimonv. credible thousch it be 
regarded, may bring home to the reader no conviction 
of their reality. If that should be so, he will but find 
himself in the same position in which I myself was before 
I witnessed them. Like him whom La Place supposes to 
be listening to the story of the hundred dice, I doubted 
hearsay evidence, even from persons whose testimony 
in any ordinary case I should have taken without hesi- 
tation. But I doubted only: I did not deny. I resolved, 
on the first opportunity, to examine for myself; and the 

"•••■ "I have finally settled down to the opinion that, as to phenomena of 
so extraordinary a character, one may, by dint of discussion, reach the con- 
viction that there are sufficient reasons for believing them, but that one 
really does believe them only after having seen them." — Bertrand : " Traite 
du Snmnambnlisme," p. 165. 


evidence of my senses wrought a conviction which testi- 
mony had failed to produce. If the reader, doubting 
liiie me, but seek the same mode of resolving his doubts, 
I may have rendered him a service. Let him demand, 
like Thomas, to see and to feel; let him inspect the dice 
one after the other ; let him avoid, as in the preceding 
pages I have sought to induce him, the extremes of 
credulity and unbelief; but let him not imagine that 
the senses his Creator has given him are lying witnesses, 
merely because they testify against his 2:>i'econceptions. 

And thus, it may be, shall he learn a wholesome 
lesson ; a lesson of warning against that wisdom in his 
own conceit which, we are told, is more hopeless than 
folly itself. 

Thus, too, perhaps he may be induced, as 1 was, 
patiently to listen to the testimony of others, as con- 
tained in many of the following pages, touching what I 
once considered, and what he may still consider, mere fan- 
ciful superstitions. And thus he may be led, as I have 
been, as to these strange phenomena, carefully to weigh 
the contending probabilities. I assume not to have 
reached absolute certainty. How seldom, in any in- 
quiry, is it attained ! Where the nature of the case 
admits but more or less probable deductions, it suffices 
to show a fair balance of evidence in favor of the conclu- 
sions we infer. Nor is it unreasonable to act on such 
an inference though it fall short of infallible proof. Of 
all the varied knowledge -which regulates our daily 
actions, how overwhelming a portion, as La Place re- 
minds us, appertains, strictly speaking, to the various 
shades of the possible only ! 

And of that knowledge how much has been gradually 
drawn forth from the obscurity where for ages it lay, 
vailed by the mists of incredulity, under the ban of the 
Improbable ! 

BOOK 11. 



"Half our days wo pass in the shadow of the earth, and the brother of 
death exacteth a third part of our lives." — Sir Thomas Browxe. 

If we sit down to make clear to ourselves what is, and 
what is not, marvelous, — to define, with precision, the 
wonderful, — we may find the task much more difficult 
than we apprehend. The extraordinary usually sur- 
prises us the most; the ordinary may be not only far 
more worthy of our attention, but far more inexplicable 

"We are accustomed to call things natural if they come 
constantly under our observation, and to imagine that 
that single word embodies a sufficient explanation of 
them. Yet there are daily wonders, familiar household 
marvels, which, if they were ncA familiar, if they were 
not of daily recurrence, would not only excite our 
utmost astonishment, but would also, beyond question, 
provoke our incredulity. 

Every night, unless disease or strong excitement inter- 
pose, we become ourselves the subjects of a phenomenon 
which, if it occurred but once in a century, we should 
regard — if we believed it at all — as the mystery of myste- 
ries. Every night, if blessed with health and tran- 
quillity, we pass, in an unconscious moment, the 
threshold of material existence; entering another world, 



where we see, but not with our eyes ; where we hear, 
when our ears convey no perception ; in which we speak, 
in which we are spoken to, though no sound pass our 
lips or reach our organs of hearing. 

In that world we are excited to joy, to grief; we are 
moved to pity, we are stirred to anger ; yet these emo- 
tions are aroused by no objective realities. There our 
judgment is usually obscured, and our reasoning faculties 
are commonly at fault; yet the soul, as if in anticipa- 
tion of the powers which the last sleep may confer upon 
it, seems emancipated from earthly trammels. Time 
has lost its landmarks. Oceans interpose no barrier. 
The Past gives back its buried phantoms. The grave 
restores its dead. 

We have glimpses into that world. A portion of it is 
revealed to us dimly in the recollections of some sleep- 
ing thoughts. But a portion is inscrutable, — almost as 
inscrutable as that other world beyond the tomb. 

What means have we of knowing that which passes 
through our minds in sleep ? Except through our me- 
mory, (unless, indeed, we are sleep-talkers, and our 
sleep-talking is overheard,) none whatever. Sleeping 
thoughts not remembered are, for us in our waking 
state, as if they had never existed. But it is certain 
that many such thoughts are wholly forgotten before 
we awake. Of this we have positive proof in the case 
of persons talking in sleep, and thus indicating the sub- 
ject of their dreams. It constantly happens that such 
persons, interrogated as to their dreams the next morn- 
ing, deny having had any; and even if the subject of 
their sleep-talking be suggested to them, it awakens no 
train of memory.* 

*" Abercrombie's "Intellectual Powers," 15th ed., p. 112. 

But all physiologists are agreed as to this phenomenon. In some cases, 
however, two mental states seem to be indicated, • the memory of the dream 
being not so wholly lost that it cannot bo revived, at a future time, in sleep. 


The question whether we ever sleep without dream- 
ing — as old as the days of Aristotle — is equally curious 
and difficult of solution. In support of the theory that 
no moment of sleep is void of dreaming thoughts or 
sensations, we have such names as Hippocrates, Leib- 
nitz, Descartes, Cabanis. The most formidable authority 
on the opposite side is Locke. But that eminent man 
evidently had not before him all the phenomena neces- 
sary to afford a proper understanding of this subject. 
His definition of dreaming is faulty,* and the argument 
with which he supports his views, namely, that "man 
cannot think at any time, waking or sleeping, without 
being sensible of it,"f evidently does not reach the case. 

Of more modern writers, Macnish and Carpenter con- 
clude that perfectly sound sleep is dreamless; while 
Holland, Macario, and (as far as they express themselves) 
Abercrombie and Brodie, assume the opposite ground. 
Plausible reasons may be adduced for either opinion. 

"Whatever be the conditions of that mysterious 
mechanism which connects the immaterial principle in 
man with the brain, this we know : that throughout 
wakino' life cerebral action of some kind is the neces- 


sary antecedent, or concomitant, of thought. This 
action, in some modified form, appears to continue at 
least during those periods of sleep when there occur 
dreams of such a character that they are remembered, 
or that their presence is testified by outward signs of 
emotion in the sleeper. 

Dr. Perquin, a French physician, has reported the 

* His definition is, " Dreaming is the having of ideas, whilst the outward 
senses are stopped, not suggested by any external object or known occasion, 
nor under the rule and conduct of the understanding." 

But, while dreaming, the outward senses are, in general, only partially 
stopped; ideas are often suggested by external objects and by physical sen- 
sations; and sometimes the understanding, instead of being dethroned, ac- 
quires a power and vivacity beyond what it possesses in the waking state. 

f "An Essay concerning Human Understanding," Book II. chap. i. p. 10. 

120 perquin's observation. 

case of a female, twent3^-six years of age, who had lost 
by disease a large portion of her skull-bone and dura 
mater, so that a corresponding portion of the brain was 
bare and open to insj)ection. He says, "When she 
was in a dreamless sleep her brain was motionless, and 
lay within the cranium. When her sleep was imperfect, 
and she was agitated by dreams, her brain moved, and 
protruded without the cranium, forming cerebral hernia. 
In vivid dreams, reported as such by herself, the pro- 
trusion was considerable; and when she was perfectly 
awake — especially if engaged in lively conversation — it 
was still greater. JS^or did the protrusion occur in jerks 
alternating with recessions, as if caused by the impulse 
of the arterial blood. It remained steady while conver- 
sation lasted."* 

Here we have three separate mental states, with the 
corresponding cerebral action intimated, so far as ex- 
ternal indications are a clew to it : the waking; state, in 
which the brain gives sign of full activity; a state known 
to be dreaming, during which there is still cerebral 
action, but in a diminished degree; and a third state, 
exhibiting no outward proof of dreaming, nor leaving 
behind any remembrance of dreams, and jduring which 
cerebral action is no longer perceptible to the spec- 

But we stretch inference too far if we assert, as some 
physiologists do,f that in this third state there is no 
cerebral action and there' are no dreams. 

All that we are justified in concluding is, that, during 
this period of apparent repose, cerebral action, if such 

* This case was observed in one of the hospitals of Montpellier, in the 
year 1821. It is by no means an isolated one. Macnish quotes it in his 
"Philosophy/ of SleejJ." 

■f Carpenter {"Principles of Human Physiology,'" p. 634) is of opinion 
that during profound sleep the cerebrum and sensory ganglia are '' in a 
state of complete functional inactivity." 


continue^ is mucli diminished,* and dreams, if dreams 
there be, are disconnected, by memory or otherwise, 
from our waking life. 

If we push our researches further, and inquire what 
is the state of the soul, and what the conditions of its 
connection with the cerebrum, during the quiescent 
state, we are entering a field where we shall meet a 
thousand speculations, and j^erhaps not one reliable 
truth beyond the simple fact that, while life lasts, some 
connection between mind and matter must be main- 
tained. We may imagine that connection to be inter- 
mediate only, — kept up, it may be, directly with what 
Bichat calls the system of organic life,f and only through 
the medium of that system, by anastomosis, or otherwise, 
with the system of animal life and its center, the cere- 
bral lobes ; or we may suppose the connection still to 
continue direct with the brain. All we know is that, at 
any moment, in healthy sleep, a sound more or less loud, 
a touch more or less rude, suffices to restore the brain 
to complete activity, and to re-establish, if it ever was 
interrupted, its direct communication with the mind. 

The Cartesian doctrine that the soul never sleeps is 
incapable alike of refutation and of practical applica- 

*■ Cases of catalepsy, or trance, in which for days no action of the heart 
or lungs is cognizable by the senses of the most experienced physician, so 
that actual death has been supposed, are of common occurrence ; yet no one 
concludes that, however deep the trance, the heart has ceased to beat, -or 
the lungs to play. Their action is so much enfeebled as to have become 
imperceptible : that is all. 

t See " EichercTies physiologiques sur la Vie et la 3Iort," par X. Bichat, 
3d ed., Paris, 1805, p. 3. 

His division of the animal functions is into two classes: those of organic 
life and those of animal life; the first including the functions of respiration, 
circulation, nutrition, secretion, absorption, the instinctive or automatic 
functions common to animal and vegetable life ; the second restricted to 
animal life alone, and including the functions which connect man and ani- 
mals with the external world, — as of sensation, volition, vocal expression, 

and locomotion. 



tion. If we imagine that the soul has need of rest, we 
must admit, as a corollary, that sleep is a phenomenon 
that will be met with in the next world as it is in this. 
If, on the other hand, we assert that there can be no 
moment in which an immortal spirit has not thoughts 
and sensations, it may be re2)lied that the words thought 
and sensation, when used by human beings in regard to 
their present phase of life, properly apply only to men- 
tal conditions which presuppose the action of the human 
brain; and that, as to the action of the soul without the 
action of the brain, if such a state can be while the soul 
is connected with the body, it evinces lack of wisdom to 
occupy ourselves about it. We can predicate nothing 
in regard to it; not having in our human vocabulary 
even the words necessary to embody any conceptions of 
its phenomena. 

Thus, even when we admit that it is the bodily or- 
gans only, not the spiritual principle, that experience a 
sense of fatigue and the necessity for intermittence of 
action, we do not concede, by the admission, that 
dreams, in the proper acceptation of the term, pervade 
all sleep. 

We approach a solution more closely when we inquire 
w^hether, as a general rule, persons who are suddenly 
awakened from a profound sleep are, at the moment of 
awaking, conscious of having dreamed. But here phy- 
siologists are not agreed as to the facts. Locke appears 
to have assumed the negative. Macnish declares, as the 
result of certain experiments made on j)urpose, that 
in the majority of cases the sleeper retained at the 
moment of waking no such consciousness.* This I much 
doubt. It is certain that, unless such experiments are 
conducted with scrupulous care, the true results may 
readily escape us. If, two years ago, I had myself been 

* Hazlitt, in his "Round Table," alleges the contrary. 


asked whether I was in the habit of dreaming, I should 
have replied that I very rarely dreamed at all; the 
fact being then, as it still is, that I scarcely ever have 
a dream which I remember, or could repeat, even at 
breakfast the next morning. But m}- attention having 
been recently attracted to the subject, so that I acquired 
the habit of taking special note of my sensations at the 
moment of awaking, I became aware, after repeated ob- 
servations, that in every instance I was conscious of 
having dreamed. Yet, with very few exceptions, the 
memory of my sleeping thought was so vague and 
fugitive, that even after ten, or perhaps five, seconds, it 
had faded away, and that so completely that I found it 
quite impossible to recall or repeat my dream. After 
that period I remembered nothing, except that I had 
been conscious of having dreamed; and, to obtain in 
every case the certainty even of this, I had to awake 
with the intetition of making the observation. So ex- 
ceedingly brief and shadowy and fleeting were these 
perceptions, that in the great majority of cases no 
effort I could make sufficed to arrest them. They es- 
caped even at the moment I was endeavoring to stamp 
them on my memory. 

It is true that these observations were usuall}" made 
at the moment of awaking, naturally, from a night's 
sleep, and that the strongest advocates of the theory of 
dreamless sleep (as Lord Brougham, in his "Discourse on 
Natural Theology'') admit that the imperfect sleep 
bordering on the waking state is full of dreams. But 
yet the reality in connection with sleeping thoughts of 
a memory so feeble and evanescent that it requires an 
intentional effort to detect its existence, should induce 
us to receive with many scruples the assertions of those 
who declare that they have no dreams."" 

* As of a young man, mentioned by Locke, (Essay on ''Human Under- 
etanding," Book IL chap 1. § 14,) a scholar with no bad memory, who de- 


Another argument in this connection is the fact, of 
which almost every one, probably, has taken frequent 
note, that we seldom awake from brief sleep, no matter 
how sound and tranquil it may have been, without a 
consciousness of time elapsed since we fell asleep. But 
time, or rather human perception of it, can exist only 
in connection with a series of thoughts or sensations. 
Hence the probability that such, even during that deep 
and motionless slumber, affected the mind. 

Upon the whole, though we cannot disprove the 
theory put forth by Locke and other maintainers of 
dreamless sleep, the probabilities seem to me against 
it. Since numerous indications assure us that in a 
thousand cases in which sleep seeins dreamless, and even 
insensibility complete, there exists a constant succession 
of thoughts and sensations, I think there is sufficient 
reason to agree, wath Brodie, that " not to dream seems 
to be not the rule, but the exception to the rule;"* and, 
if it be, how many of the phenomena of sleep may have 
hitherto escaped our observation ! How many more may 
be covered by a vail that will forever remain impene- 
trable to mortal eyes ! 

That large class of phenomena occurring during 
sleep, of which we retain no recollection after sleep, and 
which are thus disconnected from waking consciousness, 
have attracted, as they eminently deserve, much more 
attention in modern times, particularly during the last 
seventy years, than at any former period. Seventy-five 
years ago somnambulism (artificially induced) was 
unknown. But coma, somnambulism, trance, ecstasy, may 
be properly regarded as but phases of sleep ; abnormal, 
indeed, and therefore varying widely in some respects 
from natural sleep, yet all strictly hypnotic states; 

clared that till he had a fever, ia his twenty-sixth year, he had nerer 
dreamed in his life. 

* "Psychological Inquiries," by Sir B. Brodie, 3d ed., p. 149. 


which we do w^ell to stady in their connection with 
each other. 

We shall find that they have much in common. The 
same insensibility which often supervenes during som- 
nambulism and during coma presents itself in a degree 
during ordinary sleep. Children, especially, are often 
roused from sleep with difficulty; and sound sleepers of 
adult age frequently remain unconscious of loud noises or 
other serious disturbances. It has not unfrequently oc- 
curred to myself to hear nothing, or at least to retain 
no recollection of having heard any thing, of a long- 
continued and violent thunder-storm, that disturbed and 
alarmed my neighbors; and in the year 1856, being 
then in Naples, I slept quietly through an earthquake, 
the shock of which filled the streets with terrified 
thousands, imploring the compassion of the Madonna. 

Some even of the most remarkable phenomena of 
somnambulism and ecstasy appear in modified form 
during natural sleep. That exaltation of the mental 
powers which forms one of the chief features of the 
above-named states is to be met with, in numerous 
examples, during simple dreaming. "We read that 
Cabanis, in dreams, often saw clearly the bearings 
of political events Avhich had baffled him when awake ; 
and that Condorcet, when engaged in some deep and 
complicated calculations, was frequently obliged to leave 
them in an unfinished state and retire to rest, when 
the results to which they led were unfolded to him in 
dreams.* Brodie mentions the case of a friend of his, 
a distinguished chemist and natural philosopher, who 
assured him that he had more than once contrived in a 
dream aii-apparatus for an experiment he proposed to 
make; and that of another friend, a mathematician and 
a man of extensive general information, who has solved 

* Macnish's "Philosophi/ of Sleq)," p. 79. 


problems when asleep which baffled him in his waking 
state. The same author mentions the case of an ac- 
quaintance of his, a solicitor, who, being perplexed as to 
the legal management of a case, imagined, in a dream, 
a mode of proceeding which had not occurred to him 
when awake, and which he adopted with success. 

Carpenter admits that '^ the reasoning processes may 
be carried on during sleep with unusual vigor and 
success,'' and cites, as an example, the case of Condillac, 
who tells us that, when engaged in his " Cours d'Etude," 
he frequently developed a subject in his dreams which 
he had broken off before retiring to rest. Carpenter 
supposes this to occur ^'in consequence of the freedom 
from distraction resulting from the suspension of ex- 
ternal influences.""^ 

Abercrombie, in this connection, adduces the case of 
Dr. Gregory, who had thoughts occumng to him in 
dreams, and even the very expressions in which they 
were conveyed, which aj^peared to him afterward, when 
awake, so just in point of reasoning and illustration, 
and so happily worded, that he used them in his lectures 
and in his lucubrations. Even our own practical and 
unimaginative Franklin appears to have furnished an 
example of this exaltation of the intellect during 
sleep. ^'Dr. Franklin informed Cabanis,'' says Aber- 
crombie, " that the bearings and issue of political 
events which had puzzled him when awake were not 
unfrequently unfolded tO"him in his dreams." f 

A still nearer approach to some of the phenomena of 
artificial somnambulism and ecstasy, and to the invo- 
luntary writing of modern mediums, is made when the 
sleeping man produces an actual record of his dreaming 
thoughts. Of this a remarkable example is adduced by 

*" "Prmcijyles of Human Physiology," p. C'iS. 

f Abercrombie's " fntellecfual Powers" 15th ed., p. 221. 


Abercrombie, in the case of a distinguished hiwyer of 
the last century, in whose family records all the parti- 
culars are preserved. They are as follows : — 

" This eminent person had been consulted respecting 
a case of great importance and much difficulty, and ho 
had been studying it with intense anxiety and atten- 
tion. After several days had been occupied in this 
manner, he was observed by his wife to rise from his 
bed in the night and go to a writing-desk which stood 
in the bedroom. He then sat down and wrote a long 
paper, which he carefully put by in the desk, and re- 
turned to bed. The following morning he told his wife 
he had had a most interesting dream; that he had 
dreamed of delivering a clear and luminous opinion re- 
specting a case which had exceedingly perplexed him, and. 
he would give any thing to recover the train of thought 
Avhich had passed before him in his sleep. She then 
directed him to the writing-desk, where he found the 
opinion clearly and fully written out. It was after- 
ward found to be perfectly correct.'"^ 

Carpenter admits, during certain phases of sleep, the 
exaltation not only of the mental powers, but of the 
senses. Speaking of what Mr. Braid calls hyjmotism,'^ — 

* Abercrombie, Work cited, p. 222. 

It is scarcely necessary to remind the reader that the cases above ad- 
duced, though numerous, are exceptional. As a general rule, the reasoning 
powers are enfeebled during sleep. " Sometimes," says Miiller, (Physioldijy, 
Baly's translation, p. 1417,) "we reason more or less accurately in our 
dreams. Wo reflect on problems, and rejoice in their solution. But on 
awaking from such dreams the seeming reasoning is found to be no 
reasoning at all, and the solution over which we had rejoiced to be mere 

This, also, is not without its analogy in somnambulism and ecstasy. 
The opinions expressed and the statements made during these states are 
often altogether untrustworthy. 

f "Neurypnology ; or, TAe i?ofi'ona?eo/ ;S'^ee/>," by James Braid, M.R.C.S.E., 
London, 1S43. 

128 carpenter's observations. 

which is, in foct, only sleep artificially induced by 
gazing fixedly on any near object, — he mentions some 
cases that have come under his observation, thus : — 

" The author has witnessed a case in which such an 
exaltation of the sense of smell w^as manifested, that 
the subject of it discovered, without difficulty, the 
owner of a glove placed in his hands in an assemblage 
of fifty or sixty persons ; and in the same case, as in 
many others, there was a similar exaltation of the sense 
of temperature. The exaltation of the muscular sense, 
by which various actions that ordinarily require the 
guidance of vision are directed independently of it, is 
a phenomenon common to the mesmeric, with various 
other forms of artificial as well as natural somnam- 

^' The author has repeatedly seen Mr. Braid's hyp- 
notized subjects write with the most perfect regularity, 
when an opaque screen was interposed between their 
eyes and the paper, the lines being equidistant and 
parallel; and it is not uncommon for the writer to carry 
back his pencil or pen to dot an i, or cross a t, or make 
some other correction in a letter or word. Mr. B. had 
one patient who would thus go back and correct with 
accuracy the writing on a w^hole sheet of note-j^aper; 
but, if the paper was moved from the position it had 
previously occupied on the table, all the corrections 
were on the wrong points of the paper as regarded the 
actual place of the writing* though on the right points 
as regarded its previous place. Sometimes, however, 
he would take a fresh departure, by feeling for the 
upper left-hand corner of the paper; and all his cor- 
rections were then made in their right jDOsitions, not- 
withstanding the displacement of the pa2:)er."'^ 

Again, Dr. Carpenter informs us that when the atten- 

•■• ^' Princqjles of Human Physiology," }y. 616. 

Darwin's theory. 129 

tion of the patient was fixed on a certain train of 
thought, w^hatever happened to be spoken in harmony 
with this was heard and appreciated ; but what had no 
relation to it, or was in discordance with it, was entirely 

What can be more completely in accordance with 
certain somnambulic phenomena, of which the exist- 
ence has been stoutly denied, than all this ? 

But a little careful search in this field may disclose to 
us points of resemblance more numerous still. It 
belongs more properly to the next chapter, on Dream- 
ing, than to this, to inquire whether, in exceptional 
cases, during natui'al sleep, there do not present them- 
selves some of the most extraordinary powers or attri- 
butes, the alleged and seldom-credited phenomena of 
somnambulism, — such as clear-sight, (clairvoyance,) far- 
sight, (yue a distance,') and even that most strongly 
contested of all, the faculty of presentiment, the pro- 
phetic instinct. 

Eut there is another j^oii^t of analogy, connected 
with the renovating influence of sleep and the causes 
which render necessary to man such an intermittent 
action, to which it may be useful here to allude. 

It would be very incorrect to say that the continued 
exercise of any function induces fatigue, and conse- 
quently necessitates sleep. It is well known that this 
is true of some functions only. It is not true of the 
functions of organic life, the automatic or involuntary 
functions. We tire of walking, we tire of thinking, Ave 
tire of seeing or hearing, or of directing the attention 
in any way to external objects; but we never tire of 
breathing, though breathing is a more continued action 
than any of these. 

This obvious fact suggested to physiologists, before 
Darwin's time, the opinion which was first prominently 
brought forward by that naturalist, that the essential 


part of sleep is the suspension of volition. And some have 
gone so far as to assert that the only source of fatigue, 
and therefore the sole necessitating cause of sleep, 
is the exercise of volition; adducing in support of 
this theory the observation, that when the muscles 
of an arm or a leg are contracted under the influence 
of the will, fatigue follows in a few minutes; while the 
same contraction taking place involuntarily (as in 
catalepsy, whether naturally or mesmerically induced) 
may continue for a long time without any fatigue 

But we cannot adopt unconditionally such an opinion 
without assuming that there is no waking state in 
which the volition is suspended or inactive. For we 
know of no waking state, no matter how listless and 
purposeless, the continuance of which obviates the ne- 
cessity, after a comparatively brief interval, for sleej^. 
Nor is it true that men of strong will and constant 
activity always require more sleep than the indo- 
lent and infirm of purpose. Three or four hours out of 
the twenty-four are said to have sufiiced, for months at 
a time, to ]!!»J^apoleon, the very embodiment of energetic 
purpose and unceasing activity of volition. 

Not the less, however, must we admit the truth and 
importance of Darwin's remark, that the essential con- 
dition of sleep is the suspension of volition. And in 
this respect the resemblance is striking between sleep 
and the various states of the human system during 
which mesmeric and what have been called spirit- 
ual phenomena present themselves. The somnam- 
bule, the ^^ medium," are told that the first condi- 
tion of success in the production of the phenomena 
sought is, that the subject should remain absolutely 
passive; that he should implicitly surrender to the 
action of external influences his will. Indeed, the som- 
nambule is put to sleep, if artificially, not the less 


absolutely, by the magnctizer. And when a medium 
joins a circle around the table, or engages in auto- 
matic writing, drowsiness, after a brief period, is 
usually induced. 

Upon the whole, the facts seem to justify the asser- 
tion that all mesmeric and so-called spiritual phenomena, 
so far as they depend on a peculiar condition of the 
human system, are more or less hypnotic in their cha- 
racter. To obtain a proper understanding of their true 
nature, and a discriminating appreciation of the results 
obtained, this should constantly be borne in mind. 

For the rest, it may be doubted whether the popular 
opinion that it is only during sleep that there is accumu- 
lation in the cerebral lobes of the nervous fluid be a 
correct one, and whether we ought to consider the 
expenditure of that fluid as restricted to the waking 

The better opinion appears to be, that, as a general 
rule, there are, at all times, both a generation and a con- 
sumption; that, whether during the sleeping or waking 
state, that mysterious process which supplies renovating 
force to the human system is constantly going on, — the 
supply falling short of the demand upon it, and therefore 
gradually diminishing, during our waking hours, but ex- 
ceeding it, and therefore gradually accumulating, during 
sleep. In other words, we may suppose the supply regu- 
lar and constant, both by day and night, as in the case 
of that other automatic process, as little understood, 
of assimilation; and the demand never wholly ceasing, 
nor ever, perhaps, perfectly regular in its requisitions, 
but intermittent as to quantity, usually every twenty- 
four hours, — making, so long as the will is in action and 
the senses are awake, its calls at such a rate as must, 
after a time, exhaust the supply; and then again, during 
the comparative inaction of sleep, restricting these calls, 


SO that the nervous fluid can increase in quantity and 
a surplus accumulate before morning. 

That, in all cases, a certain reserve fund remains is 
evident from the fact that, under circumstances of 
urgency, we can postpone sleep even for several nights. 
But this encroachment is usually attended with in- 
jurious results. 'Nov does it appear that the brain can 
be overloaded with nervous fluid, any more than it can 
be unduly deprived of it, without injury; for there are 
diseases induced by excessive sleep. 

It would seem, also, that the brain can only deal out 
its supply of nervous force at a certain rate. 

For an exei'cise of violent volition is commonly suc- 
ceeded, after a brief period, by exhaustion; and rest 
(which is a very different thing from sleep, being only 
a cessation from active exertion) becomes necessary 
before a second such call on the nervous reservoir can 
be made. 

How that reservoir is supplied, — by what precise pro- 
cess there is generated in the cerebrum that store of 
fluid or force, the most wonderful of all the imponder- 
ables, without which, in the human system, there would 
be neither exercise of volition nor any outward sign of 
intelligence; whether this mysterious agent is, after all, 
but a modification of that proteus-showing fluid, the 
electrical, or, if not electrical, whether it may not be 
of electroid character: — these various questions how 
shall we determine? — we who, after the lapse of twenty- 
five centuries since Thales's first observation on a bit 
of amber, can scarcely tell, when we speak of positive 
and negative electricity, which hypothesis is the more 
correct, — that of a single agent, now in excess, now in 
deficiency, or that of two electricities, the vitreous and 
the resinous; we w^io, indeed, have but learned enough 
to become conscious that this very agency itself, called 
by us electrical, must yet be spoken of as unknown, — 


unknown in its essence, albeit observed, by thoasands 
of naturalists, in some of its effects.'*' 

Intelligent physiologists and psychologists, it is true, 
have si^eculated on this subject; Sir Benjamin Brodie, 
for example. Speaking of the changes which the nervous 
system may be supposed to undergo in connection with 
mental processes, and in reply to the questions, "Are 
these simply mechanical? or do they resemble the 
chemical changes in inorganic matter? or do they not 
rather belong to that class of phenomena w^hich we refer 
to imponderable agents, such as electricity and mag- 
netism?" he says, '^The transmission of impressions 
from one part of the nervous system to another, or 
from the nervous system to the muscular and glandular 
structures, has a nearer resemblance to the effects pro- 
duced by the imponderable agents alluded to than to 
any thing else. It seems very probable, indeed, that 
the nervous force is some modification of that force 
which produces the phenomena of electricity and mag- 
netism; and I have already ventured to compare the 
generation of it by the action of the oxygenized blood 

- A few years since, at the meeting of the British Association for the 
Advancement of Science held at Swansea, a discussion having arisen as to 
the essence or nature of electricity, and an appeal having been made to 
Faraday for his opinion on the subject, what did he, the first electrician 
perhaps of the age, reply ? " There was a time when I thought I knew 
something about the matter ; but the longer I live and the more carefully I 
study the subject, the more convinced I am of my total ignorance of the 
nature of electricity." — Quoted ly Bakeicell, in his '^Electric Science," p. 99. 

'•' Some of the conditions which we call the laws of electricity and of 
magnetism are known. These may not improperly be viewed as their 
habits or modes of action, — the ways in which they manifest themselves to 
some of our senses. But of what they consist, whether they possess proper- 
ties peculiar to themselves and independent of the ponderable substances 
with which we have always found them associated, or in what respects 
they differ from light and heat and from each other, is beyond the range 
of our experience and, probably, of our comprehension." — Butter's Human 
Electricity, pp. 47, 48. 



on the gray substance of the brain and spinal cord, to 
the production of the electric force by the action of the 
acid solution on the metallic plates in the cells of a 
voltaic battery."* 

Such a view may assist our insufficient conceptions; 
yet, in all reasonable probability, when we liken the 
nervous force or fluid to electricity, and the action of 
the cerebrum to that of an electric or galvanic appa- 
ratus, the comparison should be understood as illustra- 
tive and approximating, — as embodying only an adum- 
bration of the truth, — not as indicating a close resem- 
blance, still less a strict and positive identity of action. 

That, in some way or other, the blood is an agent in 
the generation of the nervous force can scarcely be 
doubted. Sir Henry Holland, sj)eaking of the intimate 
relations between the nervous and vascular systems, 
and the obvious structural connection of the nerves and 
blood-vessels, adds, "We cannot designate a single part 
in the whole economy of animal life in which we do not 
find these two great powers conjointly concerned, — 
their co-operation so essential that no single function 
can be perfectly performed without it. The blood and 
the nervous force, so far as we know, are the only 
agents which actually pervade the body throughout; 
the connection of the machinery by which they are con- 
vej^ed becoming closer in proportion as we get nearer 
to the ultimate limits of observation. Besides those 
results of their co-operation which have regard to the 
numerous other objects and phenomena of life, we cannot 
doubt the existence of a reciprocal action upon each 
other, necessary to the maintenance and completeness 
of their respective powers." .... "We cannot, in- 
deed, follow, with any clear understanding, the notion 

* " Psychological Inquiries" by Sir Benjamin Brodie, London, 1856, vol. iii. 
pp. 158, 159. 


of the nervous element as evolved by the action of the 
blood, or as actuall}'- derived from the blood, and depend- 
ing for its maintenance and energy on the conditions 
of this fluid. Yet we can hardly doubt that mutual 
actions and relations of some such nature really exist. 
Evidence to this effect is furnished, directly or indirectly, 
by all the natural phenomena of health, and even more 
remarkably by the results of disorder and disease. The 
whole inquiry is of singular importance to the physiology 
of animal life."* 

Taking into view the above remarks, and assuming 
Brodie's suggestion as to the electroid character of the 
nervous element, — bearing in mind, too, that hcematin, 
one of the constituents of the blood, has seven or eight 
per cent, of iron, while other portions contain, in smaller 
quantities, other metals, and that, in consequence, we 
have an electroid force or agent brought into intimate 
relation with a. metal-hearing fluid, a condition that may 
be supposed favorable to something resembling electro- 
chemical action, — have we not a hint as to the manner 
in which (to borrow analogous terms in default of accu- 
rate ones) the cerebral battery may possibly be charged ? 

How closely, when we touch on such topics, are we 
approaching the confines of human knowledge ! A step 
or two further in this direction we may, indeed, some 
day advance ; but what then ? " The chain of our 
knowledge,'' says Berzelius, "ends ever at last in a link 
unknown." If even we could discover how this battery 
is charged, a deeper mystery remains still vailed ; the 
manner, namel}", in which the spiritual principle within 
us avails itself of this wonderful mechanism to produce 
motion and direct thought. 

And another inquiry, more immediately connecting 

*■ " Chapters on Mental Physiology," by Sir Henry Holland, M.D., Lon- 
don, 1852. 


the foregoing digression with the subject of this chapter, 
may be mooted here, — an inquiry which some will dis- 
miss as unworthy even to be entertained, but which, 
nevertheless, is justified, in my eyes, by its connection 
with certain psychological phenomena to be presented in 
subsequent j)ortions of this volume; the inquiry, namely, 
whether, in certain exceptional conditions of the human 
system, as occasionally during dreams, or under other 
circumstances when the will is surrendered, some imma- 
terial principle or occult intelligence other than our own 
may not, for a time and to a certain extent, possess itself 
of the power to employ the cerebral mechanism so as to 
suggest or inspire thoughts and feelings which, though 
in one sense our own, yet come to us from a foreign 

Such a hypothesis, though adopted at the present day 
by not a few sensible men, may, I well know, startle as 
incredible the majority of my readers. I remind them 
that the first question is, not whether it be true, but 
whether it be worth examining. '^In the infancy of a 
science," says Brewster, "there is no speculation so 
worthless as not to merit examination. The most re- 
mote and fanciful explanations of facts have often been 
found the true ones; and opinions which have in one 
century been objects of ridicule have in the next been 
admitted among the elements of our knowledge."* 

If still there be among my readers those who are dis- 
posed to reject at the threshold the inquiry in question, 
as savoring of superstition, I pray them to postpone 
decision in regard to it until they shall have read the 
chapters which follow, especially the next, treating 
a subject which it is difiicult to disconnect from that 
of sleep in the abstract; the subject, namely, of dreams. 

* " The Martyrs of Science" by Sir David Brewster, 3d ed., London, 
1856, p. 219. 



"In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men; 
in slumberings upon the bed; then God openeth the ears of men, and seaJ- 
eth their instruction." — Job xxxiii. 14. 

Modern writers on the phenomena of sleep usnally 
concur in the assertion that man's sleeping thoughts are 
meaningless and inconsequent, and that dreams are, 
therefore, untrustworthy. 

Such was not the opinion of our ancestors, especially 
in remote times. They attached great importance to 
dreams and their interpretation. They had resort to 
them for guidance in cases of difficulty or of great cala- 
mity. Thus, when pestilence spread among the Grecian 
host before Troy, Homer represents Achilles as proposing 
that method of ascertaining the cause of what was re- 
garded as an evidence of the anger of the gods j and his 
reason for the proposal is, — 

"for dreams descend from Jove."*" 

Aristotle, Plato, Zeno, Pythagoras, Socrates, Xenophon, 
Sophocles, have all expressed, more or less distinctly, 
their belief in the divine or prophetic character of 
dreams. And even some of the ancient philosophers 
who denied all other kinds of divination, as some dis- 
tinguished Peripatetics, admitted those which proceeded 
from frenzy and from dreams."j" 

* Homer's Iliad, Book I. line 85 of Pope's translation, 
f Cicero "i?e Divinatione," lib. i. § 3. See also § 25 et seq. 
The analogy between dreams and insanity has been often noticed. Aris- 

12'='* 137 


It does not appear, however, that any of these phi- 
losophers went so far as to claim for all dreams a divine 
or reliable character. Many proceeded from the ivory 
gate. It was usually the vision of some seer, or augur, 
or priestess, occurring within sacred or consecrated 
ground, to the warnings of which imj^licit faith was at- 
tached. Plato, however, seems to intimate that all 
dreams might be trusted if men would only bring their 
bodies into such a state, before going to sleep, as to 
leave nothing that might occasion error or perturbation 
in their dreams.* 

Aristotle — whose works, like Bacon's, may be said to 
have marked out the limits of the knowledge of his day — 
restricts to certain favored individuals this faculty 
of prescience. His expression, literally translated, is, 
"And that, as to some persons, prophecy occurs in dreams, 
is not to be disbelieved. "f 

That the modern opinion as to the fantastic and ima- 
ginative character of dreams is, in the main, correct; 
that, when the senses are overcome by slumber, the 
judgment also, as a general rule, is either entirely in 
abeyance, or only partially and very obscurely active; 
these are facts so readily ascertained, usually by a little ac- 
curate observation of our own nightly sensations, as to be 

totle had already surmised that the same cause which, in certain diseases, 
produces deception of the waking senses, is the origin of dreams in 
sleep. Brierre de Boismont remarks that waking hallucinations differ 
chiefly from dreams in their greater vivacity. Macario considers what he 
calls sensorial dreams as almost identical with hallucination. Holland 
says that the relations and resemblances of dreaming and insanity are 
well deserving of notice, and adds, "A dream put into action might become 
madness, in one or other of its frequent forms; and, conversely, insanity 
may often be called a waking and active dream." — " Chapters on 3fental 
Physiology," p. 110. Abercrombie declares that "there is a remarkable 
analogy between the mental phenomena in insanity and in dreaming." — 
"Intellectual Poicere," p. 240. 

«- Quoted by Cicero, "Be Dtvinatione," lib. i. §^ 29, 30. 

"j" "De Divinatione et Somniis" cap. i. 


beyond reasonable doubt.* Whether for the notions of 
the ancients touching the higher character of some 
dreams there be not, in exceptional cases, sufficient 
warrant, is a much more difficult question.^ 

Certain it is that the framework of many dreams is 
made up of suggestions derived from waking ideas or 
desires that have preceded them, or from occurrences 
that happen during their continuance and are partially 
perceived by the sleep-bound senses. 

The ruling passion of a man's life is not unlikely to 
shape itself into dreams. The constant thought of the 
day may encroach on the quiet of the night. Thus, 
Columbus dreamed that a voice said to him, "God will 
give thee the keys of the gates of the ocean.^J And 
thus any earnest longing, experienced when we compose 
ourselves to sleep, may pass over into our sleeping con- 
sciousness, and be reproduced, perhaps, in some happy 

* A disregard of these truths has led to fatal results. Aubrey, who will 
not be suspected of trusting too little to dreams, personally vouches, as will 
be observed, for the following : — 

" Mrs. CI , of S , in the county of S , had a beloved daugh- 
ter, who had been a long time ill and received no benefit from her physi- 
cians. She dreamed that a friend of hers, deceased, told her that if she gave 
her daughter a drench of yew pounded she would recover. She gave her 
the drench, and it killed her. Whereupon she grew almost distracted : her 
chambermaid, to compliment her and mitigate her grief, said, surely that 
could not kill her: she would adventure to take the same herself. She did 
so, and died also. This was about the year 1670 or 1671. I knew the 
family.'' — " Aubrey's 3Iiscellanies," Chapter on Dreams, p. 64 of Russell 
Smith's reprint. 

■}• Such ideas are by no means confined to the ancients, but are to be found 
scattered through writings of repute in all ages. Here is an example : — 

" That there are demoniacal dreams we have little reason to doubt. Why 
may there not be angelical ? If there be guardian spirits, they may not be 
inactively about us in sleep, but may sometimes order our dreams ; and 
many strange hints, instigations, and discourses, which are so amazing 
unto us, may arise from such foundations." — Sir Thomas Browxe : Chapter 
on Sleep. 

X Humboldt's " Cosmos," vol. i. p. 316. 


delusion. As true to nature as graceful in art is that 
beautiful vision of home and its joys, described by the 
poet as occurring, after the battle, to the war-worn 
soldier, — 

"When sentinel stars set their watch in the sky, 
When thousands had sunk on the ground overpowered^ 
The weary to sleep, and the wounded to die." 

But it is worthy of remark that it is not alone domi- 
nant emotions, not mental impressions of a vivid cha- 
racter only, that become suggestive of dreams. Trifling 
occurrences, that have passed from our recollection 
before composing ourselves to rest, are sometimes incor- 
porated into the visions of the night that succeeds. I 
find an example in my journal, under date JSTaples, 
May 12, 1857 :— 

" Last evening my servant informed me that a house, 
the second from that which I inhabit, and just across 
a garden on which the windows of my apartments open, 
was on fire, and that the furniture of several rooms was 
burning. As, however, the fire did not reach the out- 
side walls, and as, during my four years' residence in 
Naples, where all buildings are fireproof, I had never 
heard of such a thing as a house burning down, I gave 
myself little uneasiness about it. Later I learned that 
the fire had been subdued ; and before I went to sleep 
the circumstance had ceased to occupy my mind. 

" Nevertheless, I had the following dream. I thought 
I was traversing a small town, in which a house was on 
fire. Thence I passed out into the open country, and 
arrived at a point where I had a view over a valley 
through which a river ran ; and on the banks of that 
river were several large buildings. Of these I observed 
that two, at some distance from each other, were 
in flames. The sight instantly suggested to me the 
idea that the fires must be the work of incendiaries; 


since (it was thus I argued in my sleep) it was not likely 
that three buildings, quite disconnected, yet within a 
short distance of each other, should be on fire by mere 
accident at the same time. ' Is it some riot or revolu- 
tion that is commencing ?' was my next thought. And, 
in my dream, I heard several shots, as from different 
parts of the country, confirming (possibly creating) my 
idea of a popular disturbance. At this point I awoke, 
and, after listening a few moments, became aware that 
some persons were letting off fire-crackers in the street, 
— a common Neapolitan amusement." 

The causes predisposing to such a dream are evident. 
I had heard, a short time before going to rest, of a house 
on fire; and the idea, in a modified form, was continued 
in my sleep. I was in a country where one lives amid 
daily rumors of a revolutionary outbreak : hence, pro- 
Bably, the suggestion as to the cause of the fires. This 
received confirmation from the actual detonation of the 
fire-crackers, which my dreaming fancy construed into 
a succession of musket-shots. 

It is to be remarked, however, that these suggestive 
circumstances were by no means of a character to make 
much impression on my waking thoughts. I was not 
under the slightest apprehension about the fire; and I 
had lived so long amid daily reports of an impending 
revolution that I had ceased to ascribe to them any 
credit or probability. The inference seems to be, that 
even feeble waking impressions may become incentives 
to dreams. 

Occasionally it has been found that dreams may be 
actually framed by the suggestions of those who sur- 
round the bed of the sleeping man. A remarkable ex- 
ample in the case of a British officer is given by Dr. 
Abercrombie, in which " they could produce in him any 
kind of dream by whispering in his ear, especially if 
this was done by a friend with whose voice he was fa- 


iniHar."* In this way they conducted him through the 
whole course of a quarrel^ which ended in a duel; and 
finally, a pistol being placed in his hand, he discharged 
it, and was awakened by the report. Similar examples 
have been elsewhere noticed, as one of a medical student, 
given by Smellie, in his "Natural History/' and another, 
mentioned by Dr. Beattie, of a man in whose case any 
kind of dream could be induced by his friends gently 
speaking in his presence on the particular subject they 
wished him to dream about. 

The same power seems, at times, to be exercised by a 
magnetizer over one whom he has been in the habit of 
magnetizing. Foissac relates of his somnambule. Made- 
moiselle Coeline, that, in her natural sleep, he could not 
only lead her on to dream whatever he pleased, but also 
cause her to remember the dream when she awoke from 
it.f In the case mentioned by Abercrombie, the subject 
preserved no distinct recollection of what he had dreamed. 

There is another remarkable phenomenon connected 
with the suggestion of dreams, which is well worth 

* "Intellectual Poivers," pp. 202, 203. 

f "Bajjporis et Discussions," Paris, 1833, p. 438. In actual somnambul- 
ism artificially induced, this power of suggestion is more frequent and 
more marked. Dr. Macario, in his work on Sleep, relates a striking ex- 
ample, as having occurred in his presence. It was in the case of a certain 
patient of a friend of his, Dr. Gromier, — a married lady, subject to hysteri- 
cal affections. Finding her one day a prey to settled melancholy, he ima- 
gined the following plan to dissipate it. Having cast her into a magnetic 
sleep, he said to her, mentally, "Why do you lose hope? You are pious: the 
Holy Virgin will come to your assistance : be sure of it." Then he called 
up in his mind a vision, in which he pictured the ceiling of the chamber 
removed, groups of cherubims at the corners, and the Virgin, in a blaze of 
glory, descending in the midst. Suddenly the somnambule was affected 
with ecstasy, sunk on her knees, and exclaimed, in a transport of joy, "Ah, 
my God! So long — so very long — I have prayed to the Holy Virgin; and 
now, for the first time, she comes to my aid!" 

I adduce this example in evidence how closely the phenomena of natural 
sleep and artificial somnambulism sometimes approach each other. It may 
afford a clew, also, to the true origin of many ecstatic visions. 


noticing. It would seem that as, in what Braid calls the 
hypnotic condition, there is sometimes an exaltation of 
the intellect and of the senses, so in dreams there is 
occasionally a sort of refreshening and brightening of 
the memory. Brodie gives an example from his own 
experience. He says, "On one occasion I imagined I 
was a boy again, and that I was repeating to another 
boy a tale with which I had been familiar at that period 
of my life, though I had never read it nor thought of it 
since. I awoke, and repeated it to myself at the time, 
as I believe, accurately enough; but on the following day 
I had forgotten it again.^' When, therefore, in sleep 
something is recalled to us which in our waking state 
we had forgotten, we ought not, on that account, to 
conclude that there is any thing more mysterious about 
it than there is in many other familiar, if unexplained, 
operations of the mind. 

We should be on our guard, also, against another class 
of dreams, sometimes spiritually interpreted, which lie 
open to the hypothesis that they may have been the 
result of earnest longing and expectation in the dreamer. 
Such a one is given in the biography of William Smel- 
lie, author of the "Philosophy of J^atural History.'^ In- 
timately acquainted with the Rev. William Greenlaw, 
they had entered into a solemn comj)act, in writing, 
signed with their blood, that whoever died first should 
return, if possible, and testify to the survivor regarding 
the world of spirits; but if the deceased did not appear 
within a year after the day of his death, it was to be 
concluded that he could not return. Greenlaw died on 
the 26th of June, 1774. As the first anniversary of his 
death approached and he had made no sign, Smellie 
became extremely anxious, and even lost rest during 
several successive nights, in expectation of the reappear- 
ance of his friend. At last, fatigued with watching, and 
having fallen asleep in his armchair, Greenlaw appeared 


to him, stating that he was now in another and a better 
world, from which he had found great difficulty in com- 
municating with the friend he had left behind, and 
adding, as to that world, that ^Hhe hopes and wishes of 
its inhabitants were by no means satisfied, for, like 
those of the lower world, they still looked forward in 
the hope of eventually reaching a still happier state of 

Those who believe that they have sufficient evidence, 
in other examples, of the reality of such revisitings, 
will probably conclude, as the biographer states Smellie 
himself to have believed even to the day of his death, 
that his friend Greenlaw had actually aj^peared to him; 
but it is evident that a different interpretation may be 
put on the incident; for it is clearly suj^posable, in this 
case, as in that of the war-Avorn soldier in Campbell's 
ballad, that the longing of the day may have engendered 
the vision of the night. 

But while we admit, what the facts abundantly prove, 
that, in a great majority of instances, dreams are, or 
may be, either the breaking forth in sleep of a strong 
desire, or the offspring of fancy running riot beyond 
the control of the judgment, or else the result of sugges- 
tion, sometimes direct and intentional, more frequently 
proceeding, apparently by accident, from antecedent 
thoughts or emotions, there remain to be dealt with 
certain exceptional cases, which do not seem to be pro- 
perly included in any of the above categories. To judge 
understandingly of these, it behooves us to examine 
them somewhat in detail. 

"VYe may dispose, preliminarily, of one class, as evi- 
dently suscejitible of simple and natural explanation; 
those, namely, which, more or less distinctly, bring about 
their own fulfillment. 

*■ "Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Corresjjondence of William Smellie, 
F.B.S. and F.A.S.," by Robert Kerr, F.R.S., Edinburgh, 1811, p. 187. 

THE locksmith's APPRENTICE. 145 

Such, for example, is an old story^ mentioned by seve- 
ral Italian authors, of a merchant, traveling between 
!Rome and Sienna, who dreamed that he was murdered 
on the road. His host, to whom he told his dream, ad- 
vised him to pray and confess. He did so, and was 
afterward assassinated on the way by the very priest to 
whom, in confession, he had communicated the know- 
ledge of his wealth and his apprehensions. 

A case of similar character, occurring a few years 
since near Hamburg, was given at the time in the news- 
papers of the day. The apprentice of a certain lock- 
smith of that city, named Claude Soller, one day in- 
formed his master that the night before he had dreamed 
that he had been murdered on the road between Ham- 
burg and Bergsdorff. His master laughingly told him 
he had just then a hundred and forty rix-dollars to send 
to his brother-in-law in Bergsdorff; and, to prove to him 
how ridiculous it was to believe in such omens, he (the 
apprentice) should be the bearer of it. The young man, 
after vainly remonstrating, was compelled to set out, 
which he did, about eleven o'clock in the day. Arrived 
half-way, at the village of Billwaerder, and recollecting, 
with terror, the particulars of his dream, he called upon 
the baillie of the village, found him engaged with some 
workmen, related to him, in their presence, his dream, 
mentioned the sum of money he had with him, and 
begged that some one might be allowed to accompany 
him through a small wood that lay in his way. The 
baillie, smiling at his fears, bade one of the workmen 
go with him as he desired. The next day the body of 
the apprentice was found, his throat cut, and a bloody 
reaping-hook near the body. It was afterward proved 
that the man who accompanied him had used that very 
reaping-hook some time before, to cut willows. He was 
apprehended, confessed his crime, and declared that it 
K 13 


was the recital of the dream which had prompted him 
to its commission. 

In some cases the connection between the influence 
of the dream and its fulfiUment, though we may admit 
its possibility, is not so clearly made out. A romantic 
example — perfectly authenticated, however — I here 
translate fi-om Macario's work on Sleep. 


In a small town of Central France, Charite-sur-Loire, 
in the Department of Nievre, there lived a j^oung girl, 
of humble rank, being the daughter of a baker, but re- 
markable for her grace and beauty. There were several 
aspirants for her hand, of whom one, on account of his 
fortune, was favored by her parents. The girl, how- 
ever, not liking him, rejected his proposals of marriage. 
The parents insisted; and finally the daughter, pressed 
by their importunities, repaired to the church, pros- 
trated herself before the image of the Virgin, and ear- 
nestly prayed for counsel and guidance in the choice of 
a husband. 

The following night she dreamed that there passed 
before her a young man, in a traveler's dress, with spec- 
tacles, and wearing a large straw hat; and a voice from 
within seemed to tell her that he was to be her hus- 
band. As soon as she awoke, she sought her parents, 
*told them, respectfully, but firmty, that she had posi- 
tively decided not to accept the man of their choice ; and 
from thenceforward they no longer pressed the matter. 

Some time afterward, at a village ball, she recognized 
the young traveler, just as he had appeared in her 
dream. She blushed. He was attracted by her appear- 
ance, fell in love, as the phrase is, at first sight, and 
after a brief interval they were married. Her husband 
is M. Emile de la BedolKere, one of the editors of the 
Paris journal the ^^Siecle;" and, in a letter to Dr. 

OF ANnKf.E BOr.TN. 147 

Macario, dated Paris, 13th December, 1854, he certifies 
to the accuracy, in evcryparticuhir,of the above relation, 
adding other details. He states that it was at a sub- 
scription ball, held in August, 1833, at the house of a 
man named Jacquemart, which he visited in company 
with his friend, Eugene Lafaure, that he first saw his 
future wife, Angele Bobin; that her emotion on seeing 
him was apparent, and that he ascertained from the 
lady at whose pension the young girl then was. Made- 
moiselle Porcerat by name, that she who afterward be- 
canie Madame de la BedoUiere had given to her teacher, 
long before his own accidental appearance for the first 
time at La Charite, an accurate description of his person 
and dress.''' 

In this case, though the coincidence seems remark- 
able, we may, as to the matter of 2)ersonal resemblance, 
allow something to chance and something to latitude of 
imagination in an enthusiastic young girl. For the 
rest, the conscious blush of a village beauty was suffi- 
cient to attract the attention and interest the heart of a 
young traveler, perhaps of ardent and impressible tem- 
perament. It would be presumptuous positively to 
assert that these considerations furnish the true expla- 
nation. But the possibility is to be conceded that they 
may do so. 

So in another case, the dream or vision of Sir Charles 
Lee's daughter, in which, however, it was death, not 
marriage, that was foreshadowed. Though it occurred 
nearly two hundred years ago, it is very well authenti- 
cated, having been related by Sir Charles Lee himself 
to the Bishop of Gloucester, and by the Bishop of Glou- 
cester to Beaumont, who published it, soon after he 

* " Du SonimeU, des lieves, et du Somnamhidisme," by Dr. Macario, Ex- 
Deputy of the Sardinian Parliament, Lyons, 1857, pp. 80, 81. 


heard it, in a postscript to his well-known " Treatise of 
Spirits." Thence I transcribe it. 


" Having lately had the honor to hear a relation of 
an apparition from the Lord Bishop of Gloucester, and 
it being too late for me to insert it in its proper place in 
this book, I give it you here by way of postscript, as 
follows : — 

" Sir Charles Lee, by his first lady, had only one 
daughter, of which she died in childbirth; and, when 
she was dead, her sister, the Lady Everard, desir'd to 
have the education of the child ; and she was by 
her very well educated till she was marriageable; 
and a match was concluded for her with Sir "William 
Perkins, but was then prevented in an extraordinary 
manner. Upon a Thursday night, she, thinking she saw 
a hght in her chamber after she was in bed, knock'd for 
her maid, who presently came to her; and she asked 
why she left a candle burning in her chamber. The 
maid said she left none, and there was none but what 
she brought with her at that time. Then she said it was 
the fire ; but that, her maid told her, was quite out, and 
said she believed it was only a dream ; w^hereupon she 
said it might be so, and compos'd herself again to sleep. 
But about two of the clock she was awaken'd again, and 
saw the apparition of a little woman between her cur- 
tain and her pillow, who told her she was her mother, 
that she was happy, and that by twelve o'clock that 
day she should be with her. "Whereuj^on she knock'd 
again for her maid, called for her clothes, and, when she 
was dress'd, went into her closet, and came not out 
again till nine, and then brought out with her a letter 
sealed to her father, brought it to her aunt, the Lady 
Everard, told her what had happen'd, and desir'd that, 
as soon as she was dead, it might be sent to him. But 

SIR CTIARJ.KS lee's DAl(;HTEi;. 149 

the lady thoiiglit she wiis suddenly fall'ii mad, aud 
thereupon sent presently away to Chelmsford for a phy- 
sieian and surgeon, who both came immediately; but the 
physician could discern no indication of what the lady 
imagined, or of any indisposition of her body. Is^ot- 
Avithstanding, the lady would needs have her let blood, 
which was done accordingly. And Avlicn tlie young 
woman had patiently let them do what they would with 
her, she desir'd tliat the chaplain might be called to 
read prayers; and when the prayers were ended she 
took her gittar and psalm-book, and sate down upon a 
chair without arms, and play'd and sung so melodiously 
and admirably that her musick-master, who was then 
there, admired at it. And near the stroke of twelve she 
rose, and sate herself down in a great chair with arms, 
and presently, fetching a strong breathing or two, imme- 
diately expired ; aud was so suddenly cold as was much 
wondered at by the physician and surgeon. vShe dyed 
at AYaltham, in Essex, three miles from Chelmsford ; 
and the letter was sent to Sir Charles, at his house in 
Warwickshire ; but he was so afflicted with the death 
of his daughter, that he came not till she was buried; 
but, when he came, caus'd her to be taken up and to be 
buried by her mother at Edminton, as she desir'd in her 
letter. This was about the year 1662 or 1663. And that 
relation the Lord Bishop of Gloucester had from Sir 
Charles Lee himself."* 

In the case here narrated, though it be doubtless an 
extraordinary and unusual thing for any one, not re- 
duced by sickness to an extreme state of nervous weak- 
ness, to be so overcome by imagination that a confident 

* "An Historical, Phijsioloyical, and Theological Treatise of Spirits," by 
Juhn Beaumont, Gent., London, 1705, pp. 398 to 40Q. 


expectation of death at a particular hour should cause 
it, even within a few minutes after the patient was, to 
all appearance, in good health, yet, as such things may 
possibly be, we cannot in this case, any more than in 
the preceding example, absolutely deny that the dream 
itself may have been instrumental in working out its 

There are many other dreams, however, as to the ful- 
fillment of which no such explanation can be given. One 
of the best known and most celebrated is that of Cal- 
phurnia, on the night before the Ides of March. We 
read that she almost succeeded in imparting to her hus- 
band the alarm which this warning of his death created 
in herself, and that Ceesar was finally confirmed in his 
original intention to proceed to the Senate-chamber b}^ 
the ridicule of one of the conspirators, who made light 
of the matron's fears. "^^ 

Those fears, natural in one whose husband, through a 
thousand perils, had reached so dangerous a height, 
might, indeed, have suggested the dream; and its exact 
time may possibly have been determined by the predic- 
tion of that augur, Spurina, who had bidden the dictator 
beware of the Ides of March. So that here again, 
though the dream had no eftect in working out its fulfill- 
ment, apparent causes may be imagined to account 
for it. 

A dream of somewhat similar character, occurring in 
modern times, is cited fn several medical works, and 

-■• Plutarch tells us tbat the arguments which Calphurnia used, and the 
urgent manner in which she expressed herself, moved and alarmed her 
husband, especially Avhen he called to mind that he had never before known 
in her any thing of the weakness or superstition of her sex ; whereas now 
she was affected in an extraordinary manner, conjuring him not to go to 
the Senate that day. And, he adds, had it not been for the suggestions of 
Decius Brutus Albinus, one of the conspirators, but a man in whom Csesar 
placed much confidence, these arguments would have prevailed. 


vouched for, as " entirely authentic/' by Abercrombic.* 
It is as follows : — 


Major and Mrs. Griffith, of Edinburgh, then residing in 
the Castle, had received into their house their nephew, 
Mr. Joseph D'Acre, of Ivirklinton, in the county of Cum- 
bcrhind, — a young gentleman who had come to the 
Scottish capital for the purpose of attending college, 
and had been specially recommended to his relatives* 
care. One afternoon Mr. D'Acre communicated to 
them his intention of joining some of his young com- 
panions on the morrow in a fishing-party to Inch-Keith j 
and to this no objection was made. During the ensuing 
night, however, Mrs. Griffith started from a troubled 
dream, exclaiming, in accents of terror, " The boat is 
sinking! Oh, save them !" Her husband ascribed it to 
apprehension on her part ; but she declared that she had 
no uneasiness whatever about the fishing-party, and 
indeed had not thous-ht about it. So she ae^ain com- 
posed herself to sleep. When, however, a similar dream 
was thrice repeated in the course of the night, (the last 
time presenting the image of the boat lost and the 
whole party drowned,) becoming at last seriously alarmed, 
she threw on her wrapping-gown and, without waiting 
for morning, proceeded to her nephew's room. "With 
some difficulty she persuaded him to relinquish his 
design, and to send his servant to Leith with an excuse. 
The morning was fine, and the party embarked; but 
about three o'clock a storm suddenly arose, the boat 
foundered, and all on board were lost.f 

* "Intellectual Puicers," 15th ed., p. 215. Abercrombie condenses the story 
and omits the names. 

f Independently of Abercrombie's voucher, this narrative is perfectly 


Here it may be alleged^ that, as the aunt, in her 
waking state, experienced no apprehension for her 
nephew's safety, it is not at all likely that alarm on her 
part should have suggested the dream. I have shown, 
however, from my own experience, that dreams may be 
suggested by incidents that have made but trifling im- 
pression, and that had ceased to occupy the mind at the 
time of going to sleep. And, inasmuch as the risk at- 
tending sailing-parties on the Firth of Forth to young 
people, careless, probably, and thoughtless of danger, is 
considerable, the chances against a fatal result, in any 
particular case, cannot be regarded as so overwhelmingly 
great that we are precluded from adopting the hypo- 
thesis of an accidental coincidence. Cicero says, truly 
enough, ''What person who aims at a mark all day will 
not sometimes hit it ? We sleejo every night, and there 
are few on which we do not dream : can we wonder, 
then, that what we dream sometimes comes to pass ?"* 

Yet, if such examples should be found greatly mul- 
tiplied, and particularly if details, as well as the general 
result, correspond accurately with the warning, the 
probabilities against a chance coincidence increase. 

But it is very certain that such instances are much 

well authenticated. The lata Mary Lady Clerk, of Peuuicuik, well known 
in Edinburgh during a protracted widowhood, was a daughter of Mr. 
D'Acre ; and she herself communicated the story to Blackwood's Magazine, 
(vol. xix. p. 73,) in a letter dated "Princes Street, May 1, 1826," and 
commencing thus : — " Being in company the other day when the conversa- 
tion turned upon dreams, I related one, of which, as it happened to my 
own father, I can answer for the perfect truth." She concludes thus : — "I 
often heard the story from my father, who always added, 'It has not made 
me superstitious ; but with awful gratitude I never can forget that my life, 
under Providence, was saved by a dream.' — M. C." 

In the Magazine (of which I have followed, but somewhat abridged, the 
version) the names are initialized only. Through the kindness of an 
Edinburgh friend, I am enabled to fill them iip from a copy of the anecdote 
in which they were given in full by Lady Clerk in her own handwriting. 

* "De Divinatione," lib. ii. ^ 59. 

STGNOR Romano's story. 153 

more numerous throughout society than those who have 
given slight attention to the subject imagine. Men 
usually relate with reluctance that which exposes them 
to the imputation of credulity. It is to an intimate 
friend only, or to one known to be seriously examining 
the question, that such confidences are commonly made. 
In the three or four years last past, during which I have 
taken an interest in this and kindred subjects, there 
have been communicated to me so many examples of 
dreams containing true warnings, or otherwise strangely 
fulfilled, that I have become convinced there is a very 
considerable proportion of all the persons we meet in 
our intercourse with the world, who could relate to us, 
if they would, one or more such, as having occurred 
either in their own families or to some of their acquaint- 
ances. I feel assured that among those who may read 
this book there will be few who could not supply evi- 
dence in support of the opinion here expressed. 

I proceed to furnish, from among the narratives of 
this character which have thus recently come to my 
knowledge, a few specimens, for the authenticity of 
which I can vouch. 

In the year 1818, Signor Alessandro Eomano, the 
head of an old and highly-respected Neapolitan family, 
was at Patu, in the province of Terra d'Otranto, in the 
kingdom of Naples. He dreamed one night that the 
wife of the Cavaliere Libetta, Counselor of the Supreme 
Court, and his friend and legal adviser, who was then in 
the city of Naples, was dead. Although Signor Eomano 
had not heard of the Signora Libetta being ill, or even 
indisposed, yet the extreme vividness of the dream pro- 
duced a great impression on his mind and spirits; and 
the next morning he repeated it to his family, adding 
that it had disturbed him greatly, not only on account 
of his friendship for the family, but also because the 
Cavaliere had then in charge for him a lawsuit of im- 


portance, which he feared this domestic affliction might 
cause him to neglect. 

Patu is two hundred and eighty miles from Naples j 
and it was several days before any confirmation or refu- 
tation of Signor Komano's fears could be obtained. At 
last he received a letter from the Cavaliere Libetta, in- 
forming him that he had lost his wife by death ; and, on 
comparing dates, it was found that she died on the very 
night of Signor Eomano's dream. 

This fact was communicated to me by ni}^ friend Don 
Giuseppe Eomano,* son of the gentleman above referred 
to, who was living in his father's house when the inci- 
dent took place, and heard him relate his dream the 
morning after it occurred. 

Here is another, which was narrated to me, I re- 
member, while walking, one beautiful day in June, in 
the Yilla Reale, (the fashionable park of Naples, having 
a magnificent view over the bay,) by a member of the 
A legation, one of the most intelligent and agree- 
able acquaintances I made in that city. 

On the 16th of October, 1850, being then in the city 
of Naples, this gentleman dreamed that he was by the 
bedside of his father, who appeared to be in the agonies 
of death, and that after a time he saw him expire. 
He awoke in a state of great excitement, bathed in cold 
perspiration ; and the impression on his mind was so 
strong that he immediately rose, though it was still 
night, dressed himself, and w^rote to his father, inquiring 
after his health. His father was then at Trieste, dis- 
tant from Naples, by the nearest route, five days' jour- 
ney; and the son had no cause whatever, except 
the above dream, to be uneasy about him, seeing that 

* Ou the 25th of April, 1858, at his villa, near Naples. I took notes 
of the occurrence at the time, which -were then and there examined and 
corrected by the narrator. 


his age did not exceed tif'ty, and that no intelligence of 
his illness, or even indisposition, had been received. He 
waited for a reply with some anxiety for three weeks, 
at the end of which time came an official communica- 
tion to the clief of the mission, requesting him to inform 
the son that it behooved him to take some legal measures 
in regard to tlie property of his lather, who had died 
at Trieste, after a brief illness, on the sixteenth of October. 

It will be observed that in this instance the agitation 
of mind in the dreamer was much greater than com- 
monly occurs in the case of an ordinary dream. The 
gentleman rose, dressed himself in the middle of the 
night, and immediately wrote to his father, so great was 
his anxiety in regard to that parent's fote. The same 
may usually be noticed in the record of cases in which 
the dream is fulfilled, even if the person to whom it 
occurs is a skeptic in all such presentiments. 

Such a skeptic is Macnish, author of the " Philosophy 
of Sleep;"* yet he admits the effect which such a dream, 
occurring to himself in the month of August, 1821, pro- 
duced upon his spirits. I quote the narrative in his own 
words : — 

'^I was then in Caithness, when I dreamed that a 
near relation of my own, residing three hundred miles 
off, had suddenly died; and immediately thereafter awoke 
in a state of inconceivable terror, similar to that pro- 
duced by a paroxysm of nightmare. The same day, 
happening to be writing home, I mentioned the circum- 
stance in a half-jesting, half-earnest way. To tell the 
truth, I was afraid to be serious, lest I should be laughed 

* Speaking of the bvpothesis that dreams may at times give ns an in- 
sight into futurity, Macnish says, "This opinion is so singularly unphilo- 
sophical that I would not have noticed it, 'vvere it not advocated by persons 
of good sense and education." — Philosophy of Sleep, p. 129. 

But, after all, it avails nothing to allege that an opinion is unphilosophical 
if it should happen that facts attest its truth. 

156 macnish's dream. 

at for putting any faith in dreams. However, in the 
interval between writing and receiving an answer I 
remained in a state of most unpleasant suspense. I felt 
a presentiment that something dreadful had happened 
or would happen; and, though I could not help blaming 
myself for a childish weakness in so feeling, I was un- 
able to get rid of the painful idea which had taken such 
rooted possession of my mind. Three days after sending 
away the letter, what was my astonishment when I re- 
ceived one written the day subsequent to mine, and 
stating that the relative of whom I had dreamed had 
been struck with a fatal shock of palsy the day before, — 
that is, the very day on the morning of which I had 
beheld the appearance in my dream ! I may state that 
my relative was in perfect health before the fatal event 
took place. It came upon him like a thunderbolt, at a 
period when no one could have the slightest anticipation 
of danger."* 

Here is a witness disinterested beyond all possible 
doubt; for he is supplying evidence against his own 
opinions. But are the effects he narrates such as are 
usually produced by a mere dream on the mind of a 
person not infected with superstition? Inconceivable 
terror, though there was no nightmare; a presentiment 
lasting for days, taking rooted possession of the feelings, 
and which he strove in vain to shake off, that something- 
dreadful had happened or would happen ! Yet, with all 
this alarm, unnatural -under ordinary circumstances, 
how does the narrator regard the case? He sets down 
his terrors as a childish weakness, and declares, as to 
the coincidence which so excited his astonishment, that 
there is nothing in it to justify us in referring it to any 
other origin than chance. Taking the case as an iso- 
lated one, it would be illogical positively to deny this; 

- " PhiloGoph)/ of Sleep," 6th cd., pp. 13-1-130. 


yet may we not iiuvly include Dr. Macnish in the cate- 
gory of those to whom Dr. Johnson alludes when, speak- 
ing of the reality of ultramundane agency, he says that 
"some who deny it with their tongues confess it with 
their fears"? 

The next example I shall cite came, in part, within 
my own personal knowledge. A colleague of the diplo- 
matic corps, and intimate friend of mine, M. de S , 

had engaged for himself and his lady passage for South 
America in a steamer, to sail on the 9th of May, 1856. 
A few days after their passage was taken, a friend of 
theirs and mine had a dream which caused her serious 
uneasiness. She saw, in her sleep, a ship in a violent 
storm founder at sea; and an internal intimation made 
her aware that it was the same on board which the 
S s j^roposed to embark. So lively was the impres- 
sion that, on awaking, she could scarcely persuade her- 
self the vision was not reality. Dropping again to sleej), 
the same dream recurred a second time. This increased 
her anxiety; and the next day she asked my advice as 
to whether she ought not to state the circumstances to 
her friends. Having, at that time, no faith whatever 
in such intimations, I recommended her not to do so, 
since it would not probably cause them to change their 
plans, yet might make them uncomfortable to no pur- 
p)0se. So she suffered them to depart unadvised of the 
fact. It so hajDpened, however, as I learned a few weeks 
later, that fortuitous circumstances induced my friends 
to alter their first intention, and, having given up their 
places, to take passage in another vessel. 

These particulars had nearly passed from thj 

memory, w^hen, long afterw^ard, being at the Eussian 

Minister's, his lady said to me, "How fortunate that 

our friends the S s did not go in the vessel they 

had first selected !'' "Why so?'' I asked. "Have you 

not heard," she replied, "that that vessel is lost? It 



must have perished at sea; for, though more than six 
months have elapsed since it left port, it has never been 
heard of" 

In this case, it will be remarked, the dream was com- 
municated to myself some wrecks or months before its 
warning was fulfilled. It is to be conceded, however, 
that the chances against its fulfillment were not so great 
as in some of the j)i'eceding examples. The chances 
against a vessel about to cross the Atlantic being lost 
on that particular voyage, are much less than are the 
chances against a man, say of middle age and in good 
health, dying on any one particular day. 

In the next example we shall find a new element intro- 
duced. Mrs. S related to me, that, residing in 

Home in June, 1856, she dreamed, on the 30th of that 
month, that her mother, who had been several years 
dead, appeared to her, gave her a lock of hair, and said, 
" Be especially careful of this lock of hair, my child, for 
it is your father's; and the angels will call him away 
from you to-morrow.'' The eff'ect of this dream on Mrs. 
S 's spirits was such that, when she awoke, she ex- 
perienced the greatest alarm, and caused a telegraphic 
notice to be instantly dispatched to England, where her 
father was, to inquire after his health, l^o immediate 
reply was received; but, when it did come, it was to 
the effect that her father had died that morning at nine 
o'clock. She afterward learned that, two da^'s before 
his death, he had caused -to be cut off a lock of his hair, 
and handed it to one of his daughters, who was attend- 
ing on him, telling her it was for her sister in Rome. 
He had been ill of a chronic disease; but the last ac- 
counts she received of his health had been favorable, 
and had given reason to hope that he might yet survive 
for some years.* 

* Kead over to Mrs. S on the 25th of April, 1858, and its accuracy 

assented to by hor. 


The peculiarity in this example is, that there is a 
double coincidence: first, as to the exact day of death; 
and, secondly, as to the lock of hair. The chances 
against that double event are very much greater than 
against a single occurrence only. 

Abercrombie relates and vouches for the following, in 
which, in a similar manner, a double event was truly fore- 

A clergyman, who had come to Edinburgh from a 
short distance, being asleep at an inn, dreamed of seeing 
a fire, and one of his children in the midst of it. He 
awoke with the impression, and instantly started out on 
his journey home. Arrived within sight of his house, 
he found it in flames, and reached it just in time to 
rescue one of his children, who in the confusion had 
been left in a situation of great danger.* 

On this Abercrombie remarks, that, ^^ without calling 
in question the possibility of supernatural communica- 
tion in such cases," he thinks the incident may be ex- 
plained on natural principles; as originating, namely, 
in paternal anxiety, coupled, perhaps, with^experience 
of carelessness in the servants left in charge. We may 
admit this; but it is evident that the fortuitous fulfill- 
ment of the two incidents witnessed in the dream (the 
fire itself, and the special danger therefrom to one of his 
children) is a contingency much more unlikely than 
would have been a single coincidence. 

There may, on the other hand, be peculiar circum- 
stances which increase, in particular instances, the 
chances in favor of fortuitous fulfillment. One such is 
given by Macnish, which, he says, may be confidently 
relied upon. It is the case of a young lady, a native of 
Eoss-shire in Scotland, who was devotedly attached 
to an ofiicer, then with Sir John Moore in the 

*- ''Intellectual Powers," p. 213. 


Spanish Avar. The constant danger to which he was 
exposed preyed on her spirits. She pined, and fell into 
ill health. Finally, one night, in a dream, she saw her 
lover, pale, bloody, and wounded in the breast, enter 
her apartment. He drew aside the curtains of the bed, 
and, with a mild look, told her he had been slain in 
battle, bidding her, at the same time, to be comforted, 
and not take his death to heart. The consequences of 
this dream were fatal to the poor girl, who died a few 
days afterward, desiring her parents to note down the 
date of her dream, which she was confident would be 
confirmed. It was so. The news shortly after reached 
England that the oflEicer had fallen at the battle of 
Corunna, on the very day on the night of which his 
mistress had beheld the vision.* 

Dr. Macnish considers this "one of the most striking 
examples of identity between the dream and the real cir- 
cumstances with which he is acquainted.'' Such an opinion 
is a proof how little exact men sometimes are in testing the 
character of phenomena like this. In itself, and without 
reference to numerous other analogous cases in which the 
dead are said to have appeared to some dear friend soon 
after the moment of decease, this incident is far less 
striking than Dr. Macnish's own dream, given in a pre- 
vious part of this chapter. Let us comj^are the cases. In 
the one, the young lady's constant thought was of her 
lover placed in continual daily peril. What so natural as 
that she should dream of him? The wonder would have 
been, if she had not. That he should appear to her 
pale and wounded, was but a reflection of the picture 
which in her sad daily reveries had doubtless a hundred 
times suggested itself The coincidence as to the day 
remains. Eut it is to be remembered that the incident 
occurred during one of the most disastrous episodes of the 

*- '' Pliilosopluj of Sleep," pp. 132 to 13i. 


Peninsular War, Avhcn each hour was expected to bring 
news of a bloody battle. It was at a time when every 
officer and soldier under the gallant and unfortunate 
Moore's command might be said to go forth each morning 
with his life in his hand. The chances of death to any 
one of these officers on any one particular day were 
perhaps twenty, thirty, fifty fold greater than to an indi- 
vidual engaged in the ordinary pursuits of peaceful life. 
The chances against the fortuitous coincidence as to the 
day were diminished in a corresponding ratio. 

How different the circumstances in Dr. Macnish's 
own case ! His relative, as he informs us, was in per- 
fect health and at three hundred miles' distance. There 
does not appear to have been any thing to direct the 
doctor's thoughts specially to him, — certainly nothing to 
make him anxious as to his fatej nothing, therefore, to in- 
duce a dream about him, still less to suggest a vision of 
his death. Yet, under all these improbabilities, Macnish 
dreams that his relative is dead. Nor is this all. With- 
out apparent cause except what he regards as a feeling 
of childish superstition, there clings to him a panic terror, 
a presentiment of evil so deep-rooted that for days his 
reason is powerless to eradicate it. Then follows the 
coincidence of the day, also under circumstances in 
which, according to every human calculation, the im- 
probability of the event was extreme ; seeing that there 
were no grounds for the slightest anticipation of danger. 

Yet, such is the power of romantic incident on the 
imagination, our author passes lightly over his own 
most remarkable case, and declares, as to that of the 
young lovers, that it is one of the most striking on 
record. The managers of any insurance-company 
would be found more clear-sighted. Suppose they had 
been asked to insure, for a month or two, the two lives ; 
that of the officer daily exposed to shot or shell, and 
that of the country gentleman in a quiet home. The 
L 14* 


vastly-increased premium which they would be certain 
to demand in the former case as compared to the latter 
would sufficiently mark their estimate of the compara- 
tive chances of death. 

Such considerations should be borne in mind in judging 
all cases of dreams fulfilled, when the fulfillment happens 
to depend upon an event which) though nsually un- 
likely, may, from peculiar circumstances of danger or 
otherwise, have been brought within the range of pro- 
bability. An instance is supplied by a curious custom 
still prevalent at Newark-upon-Trent, in England, on 
the 11th of March of every year. On that day penny 
loaves are given away to any poor persons who apply 
for them at the ToAvn Hall. The origin of the custom 
is this. During the bombardment of JSTewark by Oliver 
Gromwell's forces, a certain Alderman Clay dreamed, 
three nights successively, that his house had taken fire; 
and so much was he impressed thereby that he removed 
his family to another residence. A few days afterward, 
on the 11th of March, his house was burned down by 
the besiegers. In gratitude for what he regarded as a 
miraculous deliverance, he left by his will, dated 11th De- 
cember, 1694, to the Mayor and Aldermen, two hundred 
pounds; the interest of half that sum to be paid to the 
vicar annually, on condition of his preaching an appro- 
priate sermon, and with the interest of the other half 
bread to be yearly purchased for distribution to the 

Here the coincidence was remarkable, but certainly 
less so than if the alderman's house, through the casual- 
ties incident to a siege, had not been placed under cir- 
cumstances of extra risk. 

Let us pass on to another class of dreams, usually re- 
garded as depending on the revival of old associations. 
One of the most remarkable examj)les is given by Aber- 

A GLASGOW teller's DREAM 163 

crombie, who states that it occuiTGd to a particuhir 
friend of his, and that it <^ may be relied upon in its 
most minute particulars." It is in these words: — 

"The gentleman was at the time connected with one 
of the principal banks in Glasgow, and was at his place 
at the teller's table where money is paid, when a person 
entered, demanding payment of a sum of six pounds. 

"There were several persons waiting, who were in turn 
entitled to be served before him; but he was extremely im- 
patient and rather noisy, and, being besides a remarkable 
stammerer, he became so annoying that another gentle- 
man requested my friend to pay him his mone}^ and get 
rid of liim. He did so, accordingly^, but with an ex- 
pression of impatience at being obliged to attend to him 
before his turn; and he thought no more of the trans- 
action. At the end of the year, which was eight or 
nine months after, tlie books of the bank could not be 
made to balance, the deficiency being exactly six pounds. 
Several days and nights had been spent in endeavoring 
to discover the error, but without success; when, at 
last, my friend returned home much fatigued, and went 
to bed. He dreamed of being at his place in the bank, 
and the whole transaction with the stammerer, as now 
detailed, passed before him, in all its particulars. He 
awoke under a full impression that the dream, was to 
lead him to the discovery of what he was so anxiously 
in search of; and, on investigation, he soon discovered 
that the sum paid to this person, in the manner now 
mentioned, had been neglected to be inserted in the 
book of interests, and that it exactly accounted for the 
error in the balance."* 

Commenting on this case, Abercrombie says, " The fact 
upon which the importance of the case rested was not 
his having paid the money, but having neglected to insert 

« '•' Intellectual Foiccrs," p. 205. 


the paj'men t. Now, of this there was no impression made 
upon his mind at the time, and we can scarcely conceive 
uj)on what princij)le it could be recalled. The deficiency 
being six pounds, we may indeed suppose the gentleman 
endeavoring to recollect whether there could have been 
a payment of this sum made in any irregular manner, 
that might have led to an omission or an error; but in 
the transactions of an extensive bank, in a great com- 
mercial city, a payment of six pounds, at a distance of 
eight or nine months, could have made but a very faint 
impression. And, upon the whole, the case presents, 
perhaps, one of the most remarkable mental phenomena 
connected with this curious subject.^' 

The difficulty in the above case is, not that something 
was recalled which, in the waking state, had passed 
from the memory; for this, as in the example already 
cited from Brodie, is a phenomenon known to show 
itself, occasionally, in dreams : the true difficulty is that 
the fact of which the teller was in search, namely, the 
omission to enter a sum of six pounds, was 7iot recalled 
by the dream at all. The dream, indeed, did recall and 
present again to his memory, in all its details, a certain for- 
gotten circumstance, namely, that he had made a pay- 
ment eight or nine months before, in a somewhat ir- 
regular manner, to a certain troublesome stammerer; 
and the impression was produced on his mind 'Hhat the 
dream was to lead him to the discovery of what he was so 
anxiously in search of;" nothing more. It was only a hint 
given; a mere suggestion, as if some one had said, "See 
if that affair of the stammerer be not in some way con- 
nected with the error that has so long escaped you.'' 
And we are expressly told that it was only on investigation 
the teller discovered that the payment to the annoying 
customer was the one actually omitted. If this be not an 
example of a suggestion made from some foreign source, 
instead of being a mere instance of old associations 


revived, it has, at least, very much the appearance 
of it. 

Other examples, apparently more extraordinary and 
more closely trenching on what is usually deemed the 
supernatural, are more susceptible of natural explanation. 
For instance, a story related by Sir Walter Scott,'^ in 
these words : — 


" Mr. Eutherford of Bowland,f a gentleman of landed 
property in the Yale of Gala, was prosecuted for a very 
considerable sum, the accumulated arrears of teind, (or 
tithe,) for which he was said to be indebted to a noble 
family, the titulars (lay impropriators of the tithes). 
Mr. Eutherford was strongly impressed with the belief 
that his father had, by a form of process peculiar to the 
law of Scotland, purchased these teinds from the titular, 
and, therefore, that the present prosecution was ground- 
less. But, after an industrious search among his ftxther's 
papers, an investigation among the public records, and 
a careful inquiry among all persons who had transacted 
law business for his father, no evidence could be re- 
covered to support his defense. The period was now 
near at hand when he conceived the loss of his lawsuit 
to be inevitable; and he had formed the determination 
to ride to Edinburgh next day and make the best bar- 
gain he could in the way of compromise. He went to 
bed with this resolution, and, with all the circumstances 
of the case floating upon his mind, had a dream to the 
following purpose. His father, who had been many 
years dead, appeared to him, he thought, and asked him 

* In that edition of the Waverley Xovels to which Sir Walter himself 
supplied notes. It is given in a note to the "Antiquary," in Volume Y. 

"I" Sir Walter gives the initial and final letters only of the name, (Mr. 

R d.) I am indebted for the filling up, and for many other obligations, 

to an Edinburgh friend, whom I wish that I might here thank by name. 


why he was disturbed in his mind. In dreams men are 
not surprised at such apparitions. Mr. Eutherford thought 
that he informed his father of the cause of his distress, 
adding that the payment of a considerable sum of money 
was the more unpleasant to him because he had a strong 
consciousness that it was not due, though he was unable 
to recover any evidence in support of his belief. ^ You 
are right, my son,' replied the paternal shade : ' I did 
acquire right to these teinds, for payment of which you 
are now prosecuted. The papers relating to the trans- 
action are in the hands of Mr. , a writer, (or attor- 
ney,) who is now retired from professional business and 
resides at Inveresk, near Edinburgh. He was a person 
whom I employed on that occasion for a particular 
reason, but who never, on any other occasion, transacted 
business on my account. It is very possible,' p>ursued 

the vision, '■ that Mr. may have forgotten a matter 

which is now of a very old date ; but you may call it to 
his recollection by this token, that, when I came to pay 
his account, there was diflSculty in getting change for a 
Portugal piece of gold, and we were forced to drink out 
the balance at a tavern.' 

" Mr. Eutherford awoke, in the morning, with all the 
words of the vision imprinted on his mind, and thought 
it worth while to walk across the country to Inveresk, 
instead of going straight to Edinburgh. When he came 
there, he waited on the gentleman mentioned in the 
dream, — a very old man. -Without saying any thing of 
the vision, he inquired whether he ever remembered 
having conducted such a matter for his deceased father. 
The old gentleman could not, at first, bring the circum- 
stance to his recollection ; but, on mention of the Portu- 
gal piece of gold, the whole returned upon his memory. 
He made an immediate search for the papers, and re- 
covered them ) so that Mr. Eutherford carried to Edin- 


burgh the documents necessary to gain the cause which 
he was on the verge of losing.'' 

Sir Walter adds, as to the authenticity of the above 
narration, '' The author has often heard this story told 
by persons who had the best access to know the facts, 
who were not likely themselves to be deceived, and who 
were certainly incapable of deception. He cannot, there- 
fore, refuse to give it credit, however extraordinary the 
circumstances may appear. '^ 

The hypothetical explanation which Scott offers is, 
" that the dream was only the recapitulation of inform- 
ation which Mr. Rutherford had really received from his 
father while in life, but Avhich, at first, he merely recalled 
as a general impression that the claim was settled." 

The possibility that this raay be the true theory cannot 
be denied ; and it is easier to imagine it in this case 
than in that of the bank-teller. Yet serious difficulties 
present themselves in oj^position. We cannot assign to 
these their exact weight, because, as unfortunately too 
often happens in such narrations, some of the essential 
particulars are omitted. We do not know how old Mr. 
Rutherford was at the time of the purchase of the teinds. 
AYe merely learn that it was a transaction " of a very 
old date." The chances are that he was a child. If so, it 
is very unlikely that his father would have related to him 
all the minute details connected with such a transaction, 
as the difficulty about getting change for a Portuguese 
coin, and the adjournment to a tavern. If, on the other 
hand, he was already of adult age, it is not probable 
that a matter of so much importance should have so 
completely faded from his memory that it could not be 
(as to the recollection of the aged attorney it was) con- 
sciously recalled. And it is evident that it was not so 
recalled. The son firmly believed that it was no revival 
of recollection, but that he had actually conversed with 


his parent's S2:>irit ; for, Scott tells us, '^ This remarkable 
circumstance was attended with bad consequences to 
Mr. Eutherford, whose health and spirits were after- 
"vvard impaired by the attention which he thought him- 
self obliged to pay to tlie visions of the night." 

There is yet another difficulty; the coincidences, 
namely, between the suggestions of the (alleged) spirit 
and what actually happened during the visit to the 
attorney at Inveresk. He had forgotten the trans- 
action. Was that circumstance anticipated by chance ? 
His memory was refreshed by allusion to the incident 
of the Portugal piece of gold. Was that a purely for- 
tuitous selection ? 

Unless we assume it as a point settled that there is 
no such thing as ultramundane communication, the 
simple and natural conclusion in such a case surely is, 
that the father really appeared, in dream, to the son. 
And an argument against this which Scott adduces in 
his comments on the story has little weight. He says, 
"Few will suppose that the laws of nature were sus- 
pended, and a special communication from the dead to the 
living permitted, for the purpose of saving Mr. Ruther- 
ford a certain number of hundred pounds." It is quite 
true that these w^ould be unreasonable suppositions. 
Little as w^e can safely predicate in regard to the w^ays of 
God, w^e may still give w^eight to the ancient maxim, 
^'jSTec Deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus." But, 
assuming for a moment that it was the paternal spirit 
wdio conveyed intelligence to the son, it does not by any 
means follow that there w\as a suspension of the laws of 
nature, or any special permission required, in the case. I 
have already* given my reasons for believing that if 
there be occasional communication between the dead and 
the living, it occurs under certain fixed conditions, perhajis 

•■•• Book I. chapter iii., on "The Miraculous. 

scott's story. 169 

pli^'sical, at all events governed by laws as constant and 
unchangeable as are those which hold the planets to their 
appointed course. And if, as Scripture intimates* and 
poets have sung,-j- the spirits of the departed still take 
an interest in the well-being of those friends they have 
left behind uj^on earth, and if they may sometimes, by 
virtue of these laws, evince that interest, why may we 
not imagine a father availing himself of such opportunity 
to avert an injustice about to overtake his son ? And 
why should we admit and adopt extreme improbabilities 
in order, at all hazards, to escape from such a con- 
clusion ? 

Mr. Eutherford seems to have fallen into the same 
error as Sir Walter; though in the case of the latter it 
resulted in skepticism, and of the former, in su2:>erstition. 
A more enliij-htened view of the case mio-ht have bene- 
fited both. It might have induced the author of 
Waverley to doubt the propriety of denying (if indeed 
he did in his heart deny) the occasional reality of ultra- 
mundane agency; and it might have spared Mr. Euther- 

* Luke xvi. 27. 

" They that tell us that such as Dives retain no love to their brethren on 
earth, speak more than they can prove, and are not so credible as Christ, 
that seemeth to say the contrary." — Baxter: World of Spirits, p. 222. 
f ''And is there care in Heaven ? And is there love 
In heavenly spirits to these creatures base, 
That may compassion of their evils move ? 
There is !" — Spenser. 
When a beloved child is taken from us, there is, perhaps, no idea to which 
the bereaved heart turns more eagerly and naturally than to this. In the 
Protestant cemetery at Naples lie the remains of a young girl, the beautiful 
and gifted daughter of an American clergyman ; and upon her tombstone 
I had inscribed, by the father's instructions, the well-known stanza, — who 
has not admired it? — 

" Fold her, Father, in thine arms. 
And let her henceforth be 
A messenger of love between 
Our human hearts and thee." 


ford the delusion of imagining, as he seems to have done, 
that he was the favored subject of a special and mira- 
culous intervention from God. 

Let us proceed a step further. Supposing that 
we are willing to regard the two last-mentioned cases, 
beset with difficulties though they be, as mere examples 
of old associations recalled, let us inquire whether no cases 
are to be found in which there is presented to the mind 
of the sleeper a reality which could not have been 
drawn from the forgotten depths of the memory, because 
it never existed there. What shall we do, for example, 
with such a case as this, occurring to William Howitt, 
and recorded by that author himself? It occurred during 
his voyage to Australia, in 1852. 

" Some weeks ago, while yet at sea, 1 had a dream of 
being at my brother's at Melbourne, and found his house 
on a hill at the farther end of the town, next to the 
open forest. His garden sloped a little w^ay down the 
hill to some brick buildings below; and there were 
green-houses on the right hand by the wall, as you 
looked down the hill from the house. As I looked out 
from the windows in my dream, I saw a w^ood of dusky- 
foliaged trees, having a somewhat segregated appear- 
ance in their heads; that is, their heads did not make 
that dense mass like our woods. 'There,' 1 said, ad- 
dressing some one in my dream, 'I see your native 
forest of Eucalyptus!' This dream I told to my sons, 
and to two of my fellow--passengers, at the time; and, 
on landing, as w^e w^alked over the meadows, long before 
we reached the town, I saw this very wood. 'There,' 
I said, 'is the very wood of my dream. We shall see 
my brother's house there !' And so we did. It stands 
exactly as I saw it, only looking newer; but there, 
over the w^all of the garden, is the wood, precisely as 
I saw it, and now see it as I sit at the dining-room 


window writing. When I look on this scene, I seem 
to look into iny dream."* 

Unless w^e imagine that Mr. How^tt is confound- 
ing ideas originally obtained from a minute description 
of the scene from his brother's w'indows with im- 
pressions here represented as first received by him in 
dream, (a supposition which in the case of so intelligent 
a w^riter is inadmissible,) how can we explain this dream 
by the theory of past memories revived ? And here 
the hypothesis of mere accidental coincidence is clearly 
out of place. Indeed, the case is difficult of explana- 
tion according to any theory heretofore commonly 

Equally so is the following, a personal experience, 
given by Mrs. Howitt in the Appendix to her husband's 
translation of Ennemoser just cited. "On the night 
of the 12th of March, 1853," she says, "I dreamed that 
I received a letter from my eldest son. In my dream 
I eagerly broke open the seal, and saw a closely- written 
sheet of paper; but my eye caught only these words, 
in the middle of the first page, written larger than the 
rest, and underdrawn : — ^My father is very ill.' The 
utmost distress seized me, and I suddenly woke to find 
it only a dream; yet the painful impression of reality 
was so vivid that it was long before I could compose 
myself. The first thing I did, the next morning, w^as 
to commence a letter to my husband, relating this dis- 
tressing dream. Six days afterward, on the 18th, an 
Australian mail came in and brought me a letter, — the 
only letter I received by that mail, and not from any of 
my family, but from a gentleman in Australia with 
wiiom we were acquainted. This letter was addressed 
on the outside ^ Immediate f and, with a trembling hand, 

"* Given in Appendix to ''Hif<tory of Marjic," by Ennemoser, translated 
by William Howitt, London, 1854, vol. ii. p. 416. 

172 MRS. howitt's letter. 

I opened it; and, true enough, the first words I saw 
and those written larger than the rest, in the middle of 
the paper, and underdrawn, were, 'Mr. Howitt is very ill.' 
The context of these terrible words was, however, ' If 
you hear that 31r. Howitt is very ill, let this assure you 
that he is betterj' but the only emphatic words were 
those which I saw in my dream, and these, nevertheless, 
slightly varying, as, from some cause or other, all such 
mental impressions, spirit-revelations, or occult dark 
sayings, generally do, from the truth or type which 
they seem to reflect." 

What are we to make of such a case as this, directly 
testified to by a lady of the highest character and in- 
telligence, and resting upon her own personal expe- 
rience? In dream, opening a letter from her son, then 
in Australia, she sees, ivritten in the middle of the first page, 
in characters larger than the rest, and underlined, the words, 
" M}' father is very ill." Six days afterward she actually 
receives a letter from Australia, not indeed from her 
son, but from a friend, and therein, in the middle of the 
page, and in characters larger than the rest, and underlined, 
the first words that meet her eye on opening it are, 
"Mr. Howitt is very ill." Is this chance ? What! all 
of it ? First, the words, almost literally corresponding, 
and in sense exactly so ; next, the position in the center 
of the paper; then, the larger size of the characters; 
and, finally, the underlining? The mind instinctively, 
and most justly, rejects s-uch a conclusion. Whatever 
else it is, it is not chance. Mesmerists would call it a 
case of clear-sight (clairvoyance) or far-sight (rwe a, 
distance^ characterized by somewhat imperfect lucidity. 

Lest the reader should imagine that in accounting 
on ordinary principles for the preceding examples he 
has reached the limit of the difficulties attending the 
present subject, I shall here cite, from a multitude of 
similar examples of what might not inaptly be termed 

EDMUND Norway's dream. 173 

natural clairvoyance, one or two additional cases, with 
which the reader may find it still more embarrassing to 
deal on the theor}' of fortuitous coincidence. 

The truth of the first is vouched for by Dr. Carlyon, 
author of a work from w^hich I extract it, who had it 
from the main witness, and who adduces, in attestation, 
every particular of name, place, and date. 


" On the evening of the 8th of February, 1840, Mr. 
Nevell Norway, a Cornish gentleman, was cruelly 
murdered by two brothers of the name of Lightfoot, on 
his w^ay from Bodmin to Wadebridge, the place of his 

"At that time his brother, Mr. Edmund JS'orway, was 
in the command of a merchant-vessel, the 'Orient,' on 
her voyage from Manilla to Cadiz ; and the following is 
his own account of a dream which he had on the night 
when his brother was murdered : — 

"Ship 'Oriext,' from Manilla to Cadiz, 
<' February 8, 1840. 

"About 7.30 P.M. the island of St. Helena n.n.w., dis- 
tant about seven miles; shortened sail and rounded to 
with the ship's head to the eastward; at eight, set the 
watch and went below; wrote a letter to my brother, 
Nevell Norway. About twenty minutes or a quarter 
before ten o'clock, went to bed ; fell asleep, and dreamt 
I saw two men attack my brother and murder him. 
One caught the horse by the bridle, and snapped a pistol 
twice, but I heard no report ; he then struck him a blow, 
and he fell off the horse. They struck him several 
blows, and dragged him by the shoulders across the 
road and left him. In my dream, there w^as a house on 
the left-hand side of the road. At four o'clock I was 
called, and went on deck to take charge of the ship. I 



told the second officer, Mr. Henry Wren, that I had had 
a dreadful dream, — namely, that my brother Nevell 
was murdered by two men on the road from St. Columb 
to Wadebrido-e, but that I felt sure it could not be there, 
as the house there would liave been on the right-hand 
side of the road ; so that it must have been somewhere 
else. He replied, 'Don't think any thing about it; you 
west-country people are so superstitious ! You will make 
yourself miserable the remainder of the voyage.' He 
then left the general orders and went below. It was 
one continued dream from the time I fell asleep until I 
was called, at four o'clock in the morning. 
" Edmund Norway, 

''Chief Officer Ship ' Orient' 

" So much for the dream. Now for the confession of 
William Lightfoot, one of the assassins, who was exe- 
cuted, together with his brother, at Bodmin, on Mon- 
day, April 13, 1840. 

" ' I went to Bodmin last Saturday week, the 8th inst., 
(February 8, 1840,) and in returning I met my brother 
James at the head of Dummeer Hill. It was dim like. 
We came on the turnpike-road all the way till we came 
to the house near the spot where the murder was com- 
mitted. We did not go into the house, but hid our- 
selves in a field. My brother knocked Mr. Norway 
down ; he snapped a pistol at him twice, and it did not 
go off. He then knocked him down with the pistol. I 
was there along with him. Mr. Norway was struck 
while on horseback. It was on the turnpike-road, be- 
tween Penearrow^ Mill and the directing-post toward 
Wadebridge. 1 cannot say at what time of the night it 
was. We left the body in the water, on the left side of 
the road coming to Wadebridge. We took some money 
in a purse, but I did not know how much. My brother 
drew the body aci^oss the road to the watering.' 


" At the trial, Mr. Abraham Ilambly deposed that lie 
left Bodmin ten minutes before ten, and was overtaken 
by Mr. IN'orway about a quarter of a mile out of Bodmin. 
They rode together for about two miles from Bodmin, 
where their roads separated. 

" Mr. John Hick, a farmer of St. Minver, left Bodmin 
at a quarter-past ten, on the Wadebridge road. When 
he got to within a mile of Wadebridge, he saw Mr. Nor- 
way's horse galloping on before him, without a rider. 
The clock struck eleven just before he entered Wade- 

" Thomas Gregory, Mr. Norway's Avagoner,was called 
by Mr. Hick about eleven o'clock, and, going to the 
stable, found his master's horse standing at the gate. 
Two spots of fresh blood were on the saddle. He took 
the i^ony and rode out on the road. Edward Cavell 
went with him. They came to a place called North 
Hill. There is a lone cottage there, by the right-hand 
side of the road going to Bodmin, which is unoccupied. 
On the Wadebridge side of the cottage there is a small 
orchard belonging to it, and near the orchard a little 
stream of water coming down into the road. They found 
the body of Mr. Norway in the water. 

" The evidence of the surgeon, Mr. Tickell, showed 
that the head was dreadfully beaten and fractured. 

" It will be seen that Mr. Edmund Norway, in relat- 
ing his dream the following morning to his shipmate, 
observed that the murder could not have been commit- 
ted on the St. Columb road, because the house, in going 
from thence to Wadebridge, is on the right hand, 
whereas the house Avas in his dream (and in reality is) 
on the left. Now, this circumstance, however appa- 
rently trivial, tends somewhat to enhance the interest 
of the dream, without in the least impugning its fidelity; 
for such fissures are characteristic of these sensorial im- 
pressions, which are altogether involuntary, and bear a 


much nearer relation to the productions of the daguer- 
reotype than to those of the portrait-painter, whose 
lines are at his command. 

" I asked Mr. Edmund Norway whether, supposing 
that he had not written a letter to his brother, Mr. N". 
Norway, on the evening of the 8th February, and had 
nevertheless dreamt the dream in question, the impres- 
sion made by it would have been such as to have pre- 
vented his writing to him subsequently. To which he 
replied, that it might not have had that effect ; but he 
could not say with any precision whether it would or 

"At all events, the dream must be considered remark- 
able, from its unquestionable authenticity, and its perfect 
coincidence in time and circumstances with a most hor- 
rible murder.'^* 

So far the statement of Dr. Carlyon. Let us briefly 
review the case it presents. 

The coincidence as to time is exact, the murder occur- 
ring on the same nio-ht as the dream. The incident is 
not an ordinary accident, but a crime of rare occurrence. 
The precise correspondence between the dream and the 
actual occurrences is not left to be proved by recollections 
called up weeks or months after the dream ; for the evi- 
dence is an extract taken verbatim from the ship's log, 
— ^the record of the moment, when every thing was fresh 
on the memory. 

It is very true that Mr. Norway had been writing 
to his brother just before he retired to rest; and the 
chances are that he fell asleep thinking of him. It is 
possible that, but for this direction of his thoughts, he 
might not have had the dream at all ; for who shall de- 

*■ " Early Years and Late Reflections," by Clement Carlj'on, M.D., Fel- 
low of Pembroke College, in 2 vols., vol. i. p. 219. 


tcrmiiie the power of sympathy, or assign to that power 
its limit ? 

It was natural, then, that he should dream of his bro- 
ther. But was it (in the usual acceptation of the term) 
natural, also, that every minute particular of that night's 
misdeeds, perpetrated in England, should be seen at the 
time, in a vision of the night, by a seaman in a vessel 
off the island of St. Helena ? 

The minuteness of the correspondence can best be 
judged by placing the various incidents seen in the 
dream in juxtaposition with those wdiich were proved, 
on the trial, to have happened. 

Mr. Edmund Xorway dreamed that Mr. Xe veil Norway was attacked, 
his brother Nevell was attacked by the same night, by William Light- 
two men, and murdered. foot and his brother James, and was 

murdered by them. 

Mr. Edmund Norway dreamed that " It was on the turnpike-road be- 
" it was on the road from St. Columb tween Pencarrow Mill and the direct- 
to "Wadebridge." ing-post toward Wadebridge." 

Mr. Edmund Norway dreamed that James Lightfoot "snapped a pistol 

"one of the men caught the horse by at Mr. Norway twice, and it did not 

the bridle, and snapped a pistol twice, go off, • he then knocked him down 

but he heard no report; he then with the pistol." . . . " Mr. Norway 

struck him a blow, and he fell ofif his was struck while on horseback." 

Mr. Edmund Norway dreamed that James Lightfoot " drew the body 

the murderers " struck his brother se- across the road to the watering.". . . 

veral blows, and dragged him by the The murderers " left the body in the 

shoulders across the road, and left water, on the left side of the road 

him." coming to Wadebridge." 

A more complete series of correspondences between 
dream and reality can hardly be imagined. The inci- 
dent of the pistol tw^ice missing fire is in itself conclu- 
sive. The various coincidences, taken together, as proof 
that chance is not the true explanation, have all the 
force of a demonstration in Euclid. 


There was an inaccuracy, as to the house on the left 
of the road, while it really stands on the right; just as 
the w^ords in Mrs. Howitt's letter slightly varied from 
those she had read in dream, — instructive inaccuracies 
these, not in the least invalidating the proofs which 
exist independent of them, but teaching us that, even 
through an agency such as w^e have been accustomed to 
call supernatural, truth may come to us, mingled with 
error, and that clairvoyance, even the most remarkable, 
is at best uncertain and fallible. 

The next example — also of far-sight in dream — I ob- 
tained by personal interview w^ith the gentleman who is 
the subject of it. 


In the winter of 1835-36, a schooner was frozen up in 
the upper part of the Bay of Fundy, close to Dorchester, 
which is nine miles from the river Pedeudiac. During 
the time of her detention she was intrusted to the care 
of a gentleman of the name of Clarke, who is at this 
time captain of the schooner Julia Hallock, trading 
between New York and St. Jago de Cuba. 

Captain Clarke's paternal grandmother, Mrs. Ann 
Dawe Clarke, to whom he was much attached, was at 
that time living, and, so far as he knew, well. She was 
residing at Lyme-Eegis, in the county of Dorset, 

On the night of the 17th of February, 1836, Captain 
Clarke, then on board the schooner referred to, had a 
dream of so vivid a character that it produced a great 
impression upon him. He dreamed that, being at Lyme- 
Regis, he saw pass before him the funeral of his grand- 
mother, lie took note of the chief persons who composed 
the procession, observed w^ho w^ere the pall-bearers, who 
were the mourners, and in what order they walked, and 
distinguished who was the officiating pastor. He joined 


the procession as it approached the churchyard gate, 
and proceeded with it to the grave. He thought (in his 
dream) that the w^eather was stormy, and the ground 
wet, as after a heavy rain ; and he noticed that the 
wind, being high, blew the pall partly off the coffin. 
The graveyard which they entered, the old Protestant 
one, in the center of the town, was the same in which, as 
Captain Clarke knew, their family burying-place was. 
lie perfectly remembered its situation ; but, to his sur- 
prise, the funeral procession did not proceed thither, 
but to another part of the churchyard, at some distance. 
There (still in his dream) he saw the open grave, par- 
tially filled with water, as from the rain; and, looking 
into it, he particularly noticed floating in the water two 
drowned field-mice. Afterward, as he thought, he con- 
versed with his mother: and she told him that the morn- 
ing had been so tempestuous that the funeral, originally 
appointed for ten o'clock, had been deferred till four. 
He remarked, in reply, that it was a fortunate circum- 
stance; for, as he had just arrived in time to join the 
procession, had the funeral taken place in the forenoon 
he could not have attended it at all. 

This dream made so deep an impression on Captain 
Clarke that in the morning he noted the date of it. Some 
time afterward there came the news of his grandmother's 
death, with the additional particular that she was buried 
on the same day on which he, being in Xorth America, 
had dreamed of her funeral. 

When, four years afterward. Captain Clarke visited 
Lyme-Eegis, he found that every particular of his dream 
minutely corresponded witli the reality. The pastor, the 
pall-bearers, the mourners, Avere the same persons he 
had seen. Yet this, we may suppose, he might naturally 
have anticipated. But the funeral had been appointed 
for ten o'clock in the morning, and, in consequence of 
the tempestuous weather and the heavy rain that was 


falling, it had been delayed until four in the afternoon. 
His niother, who attended the funeral, distinctly re- 
collected that the high wind blew the pall partially off 
the coffin. In consequence of a wish expressed by the 
old lady shortly before her death, she was buried, not in 
the burying-place of the family, but at another spot, 
selected by herself; and to this spot Captain Clarke, 
without any indication from the family or otherwise, 
proceeded at once, as directl}^ as if he had been present 
at the burial. Finally, on comparing notes with the 
old sexton, it appeared that the heavy rain of the 
morning had partially filled the grave, and that there 
were actually found in it two field-mice, drowned. 

This last incident, even if there were no other, might 
suffice to preclude all idea of accidental coincidence. 

The above was narrated to me by Captain Clarke him- 
self,* with permission to use his name in attestation of 
its truth.f 

* In New York, on July 28, 1859. The narrative is written out from 
notes taken on board his schooner. 

f I originally intended to insert here a dream connected with a well- 
known incident in English history, and vouched for by Dr. Abercrombie 
in his ''Intellectual Poicers," pp. 218, 219. 

As there related, it is in substance to the effect that, eight days before the 
murder of Mr. Pcrcival, Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the lobby of the 
English House of Commons, in 1812, a gentleman in Cornwall saw, in 
dream thrice repeated, every particular of the murder, even to the dress of the 
parties, and was told (still in dream) that it was the Chancellor who was 
shot; all which made so much impression on the dreamer that he was 
only deterred from giving notice to Mr. Percival by the assurances of his 
friends that, if he did so, he would be treated as a fanatic. 

Dr. Carlyon, in his work already referred to, quotes and indorses the 
story, adding, ''The dream in question occurred in Cornwall, to Mr^ 
Williams, of Scorrier House, still alive, (February, 1836,) and now residing 
at Calstock, Devon, from whose lips I have more than once heard the 

There is, however, another and much more minute version of the story, 
given during Mr. Williams's life, in the (London) "Times" of August 16, 
1S2S, and coming, as the editor states, from "a correspondent of un- 


If, as to the faculty of farsight or natural clairvoyance 
in dream, evidently substantiated by the preceding 
examples, any should be tempted to regard it as a 
miraculous gift, they would do well to bear in mind the 
fact that, while in some of the examples of this faculty 
we find cases in which life and death are at stake, 
others, equally authentic, are to be found of the most 
trivial character. 

Of the latter is the following example, for the ac- 
curacy of which Abercrombie vouches. "A lady in 
Edinburgh had sent her w^atch to be repaired. A long 
time elapsed without her being able to recover it ; and, 
after many excuses, she began to suspect that something 
was wrong. She now dreamed that the watchmaker's 
boy, by whom the watch was sent, had dropped it in 
the street, and had injured it in such a manner that it 
could not be repaired. vShe went to the master, and, 
without any allusion to her dream, put the question to 
him directly, when he confessed that it w^as true.'^* 

In this case, nothing can be more ridiculous than to 
imagine that there was miraculous intervention for the 
purpose of informing a lady w4iy her w^atch was detained 
at the maker's ; yet how extreme the improbability, also, 
that, among the ten thousand j^ossible causes of that de- 
tention, chance should indicate to her, in dream, the very 

questionable veracity," in which, while Mr. Scorrier's name and address 
are furnished, and all the particulars save one given by Dr. Abcrcronibie 
are strictly corroborated, that one fails. Dr. Abercrombie, who says he 
''derived the particulars from an eminent medical friend in England," 
mentions that the dream occurred eigJd days before the murder; while in 
the ''Times" version it is expressly stated that it was "on the night of the 
11th of May, 1812," the same on which 3Ir, Percival teas shot. 

Thus we are left in doubt whether this dream is of a prophetic or simply 
of a clairvoyant character. The one or the other it clearly is. But, in this 
uncertainty^, after spending several days in collecting and collating the 
conflicting accounts, I omit all but this brief notice of the incident. 

* Abercrombio's "Intellectual Powers," p. 215. 



one, though apparently among the most far-fetched and 
unlikely, that was found exactly to coincide with the 
fact as it occurred ! 

The attempt is futile to explain away even such a 
simple narrative as the foregoing, unless Ave impeach 
the good faith of the narrator; imagining, let us sup- 
pose, that he has willfully concealed some essential at- 
tendant circumstance, as, for instance, that the lady 
whose watch was injured had reason, from information 
obtained, to surmise that the boy might have dropped it. 
But, when Abercrombie vouches for the narrative as 
authentic, his voucher excludes, of course, suppositions 
which would deprive the anecdote of all value whatever 
in the connection in which he publishes it. 

In the three examples which follow, and which are of 
a different class from any of the preceding, we may go 
further yet, and assert that, unless the narrators directly 
lie, there are phenomena and laws connected with dream- 
ing which have never j'-et been explained, and have 
scarcely been investigated. 

The first was communicated to me in March, 1859, by 

Miss A. M. H , the talented daughter of a gentleman 

well known in the literary circles of Great Britain. I 
give it in her words. 


" We had a friend, S , who some years ago Avas 

in a delicate state of healtli, believed to be consumptive. 
He lived several hundred miles from us, and, although 
our family were intimately acquainted with himself j we 
knew neither his home nor any of his family; our inter- 
course being chiefly by letters, received at uncertain 

"One night, when there was no special cause for my 
mind reverting to our friend or to his state of health, I 
dreamed that I had to go to the town Avhero he resided. 


In my dream I seemed to arrive at a particular house, 
into which I entered, and went straight up-stairs into a 

darkened chamber. There, on his bed, I saw S 

lying as if about to die. I walked up to him; and, not 
mournfully, but as if filled with hopeful assurance, I took 
his hand and said, 'No, 3'ou are not going to die. Be 
comforted : you will live.' Even as I spoke I seemed 
to hear an exquisite strain of music sounding through 
the room. 

^'On awaking, so vivid were the impressions remaining 
that, unable to shake them off even the next day, I 
communicated them to my mother, and then wrote to 

S , inquiring after his health, but giving him no clew 

to the cause of my anxiety. 

"His reply informed us that he had been very ill, — in- 
deed, supposed to be at the point of death, — and that my 
letter, which for several days he had been too ill to read, 
had been a great happiness to him. 

^' It was three years after this that my mother and I 

met S in London; and, the conversation turning on 

dreams, I said, ' By the way, I had a singular dream 
about you three years ago, when you were so ill :' and I 
related it. As I proceeded, I observed a remarkable ex- 
pression spread over his face ; and when I concluded he 
said, with much emotion, 'This is singular indeed; for 
I too had, a night or two before your letter arrived, a 
dream the very counterpart of yours. I seemed to my- 
self on the point of death, and was taking final leave 
of my brother. ''Is there any thing," he said, "I 
can do for you before you die?" — "Yes," I replied, in my 

dream; " two things. Send for my friend A. M. W . 

1 must see her before I depart." — " Imj^ossible !" said my 
brother: "it would be an unheard-of thing: she would 
never come." — "She would," I insisted, in my dream, 
and added, " I would also hear my favorite sonata by 
Beethoven, ere I die." — " But these are trifles," exclaimed 


my brother, almost sternly. " Have you no desires more 
earnest at so solemn an hour?" — "No: to see my friend 
A. M. and to hear that sonata, that is all I wish/' And, 
even as I spoke, in my dream I saw you enter. You 
walked up to the bed with a cheerful air; and, while 
the music I had longed for filled the room, you spoke to 
me encouragingly, saying I should not die.* " 

Knowing the writer intimately, I can vouch for the 
strict truth and accuracy of this narration; embodying, 
as it does, that rare and very remarkable phenomenon, 
two concurring and synchronous dreams. 

The next example is adduced by Abercrombie* as 
having been mentioned by ]\Ir. Joseph Taylorf for an 
undoubted fact. It occurred to the late Eev. Joseph AVil- 
kins, afterward dissenting clergyman at Weymouth, in 
Dorsetshire, England, but then usher of a school in 
Devonshire, when he was twentj^-three years of age; to 
wit, in the year 1754. Mr. Wilkins died November 22, 
1800, in the seventieth year of his age. In the Obituary 
of the "Gentleman's Magazine" is a notice of his death, 
in which it is said of him, " For liberality of sentiment, 
generosity of disposition, and uniform integrity, he had 
few equals and hardly any superiors. ''J 

The original narrative was prepared and carefully 
preserved by himself in writing, and (the title only 
being added by me) is in these words : — 


" One night, soon after I was in bed, I fell asleep, 
and dreamed I was going to London. I thought it 
would not be much out of my Avay to go through Glou- 
cestershire and call upon my friends there. Accord- 

* ''Intellectual Powers," pp. 215, 216. 

f He relates it in his work entitled " Danger of Premature Interment. 

i " Gentleman's Magazine" for the year ISOO, p. 1216. 


ingly, 1 set out, but remembered nothing that hap- 
pened by the way till I came to my father's house; 
when I went to the front door and tried to open it, but 
found it fast. Then I went to the back door, which I 
opened, and went in ; but, finding all the family were in 
bed, I crossed the rooms only, Avent up-stairs, and en- 
tered the chamber where my father and mother were in 
bed. As I went by the side of the bed on which my 
father lay, I found him asleep, or thought he was so; 
then I went to the other side, and, having just turned 
the foot of the bed, I found my mother awake, to whom 
I said these words : — 'Mother, I am going a long jour- 
ney, and am come to bid you good-bye.' Upon which 
she answered, in a fright, ' Oh, dear son, thou art deadT 
With this I awoke, and took no notice of it more than 
a common dream, except that it appeared to me very 
perfect. In a few days after, as soon as a letter could 
reach me, I received one by post from my father; upon 
the receipt of which I was a little surprised, and con- 
cluded something extraordinary must have happened, 
as it was but a short time before I had a letter from my 
friends, and all were well. Upon opening it I was 
more surprised still ; for my father addressed me as 
though I was dead, desiring me, if alive, or whoever's 
hands the letter might fall into, to write immediately; 
but if the letter should find me living they concluded 
I should not live loufj-, and p*ave this as the reason of 
their fears: — That on a certain night, naming it, after 
they were in bed, my father asleep and my mother 
awake, she heard somebody try to open the front 
door; but, finding it fast, he went to the back door, 
which he opened, came in, and came directly through 
the rooms up-stairs, and she perfectly knew it to be my 
step; but I came to her bedside, and spoke to her 
these words : — ' Mother, I am going a long journey, and 
have come to bid you good-bye.' Upon which she 


answered mC; in a fright, ' Ob, dear son, thou art 
dead I' — which were the circumstances and words of 
my dream. But she heard nothing more, and saw 
notliing more; neither did I in my dream. Upon this 
she awoke, and told my father what had passed; but 
he endeavored to appease her, persuading her it was 
only a dream. She insisted it was no dream, for that she 
was as perfect]}^ awake as ever she was, and had not 
the least inclination to sleep since she was in bed. 
From these circumstances I am apt to think it Avas 
at the very same instant when my dream happened, 
thoufrh the distance between us was about one hundred 
miles; but of this I cannot speak positively. This oc- 
curred while I was at the academy at Ottery, Devon, in 
the year 1754; and at this moment every circumstance 
is fresh upon my mind. I have, since, had frequent 
opportunities of talking over the affair with my mother, 
and the whole was as fresh upon her mind as it was 
upon mine. I have often thought that her sensations, 
as to this matter, were stronger than mine. What may 
appear strange is, that I cannot remember any thing 
remarkable happening hereupon. This is only a plain, 
simple narrative of a matter of fact." 

That nothing extraordinary occurred in the sequel — 
no sudden death, for example, of which the above 
might have been construed into a warning — is an in- 
structive peculiarity in thi*s case. Shall we say of it, as 
the superstitious usually sa}' of such phenomena, that 
it was of a miraculous character? Then we have a 
miracle without a motive. This single incident, if we 
admit its authenticity, might alone suffice to disprove 
the common notions on this subject. And the total 
disconnection of the above facts from any alleged pre- 
diction or presentiment may stand as an additional 
voucher for their truth. There was nothinii; tendins^ to 

THE mother's longing. 187 

mislead the imagination ; no ground upon which any- 
one would be tempted to erect a fanciful super- 

Nor does this narrative, inexplicable as the circum- 
stances may appear, stand alone in its class. Another, 
remarkably well authenticated, is given, amid fifty 
other narratives of very apocrj^phal seeming, by Bax- 
ter, in his well-known " Certainty of the World of 
Spirits.'"^ It is from a brother clergyman, residing in 
Kent. I transcribe it literally, adding the title only, as 
follows : — 


^' Eeverend Sir : — 

" Being informed that you arc writing about witch- 
craft and apparitions, I take the liberty, though a 
stranger, to send you the folloAving relation : — 

" Mary, the wife of John Goffe, of Eochester, being- 
afflicted with a long illness, removed to lier father's 
house at West Mulling, which is about nine miles dis- 
tant from her own. There she died June the 4th, this 
present year, 1691. 

"The day before her departure she grew very im- 
patiently desirous to see her two children, whom she 
had left at home to the care of a nurse. She prayed her 
husband to hire a horse, for she must go home and die 
with the children. When they" persuaded her to the 
contrarv, tellino; her she was not fit to be taken out of 
her bed, nor able to sit on horseback, she intreated them, 
however, to try. ♦If I cannot sit,' said she, 'I will lie 
all along upon the horse; for I must go to see my poor 
babes.' A minister who lives in the town was with her 
at ten o'clock that night, to whom she expressed good 

••• " The Certauiti/ of the Woihl of Spirits/' by Richard Baxter, London, 
1691, chap. vii. pp. 147 to 151. 


hopes in the mercies of God, and a willingness to die: 
'But/ said she, Mt is ni}" miseiy that I cannot see my 
children.' Between one and two o'clock in the morning 
she fell into a trance. One widow Turner, who watched 
with her that night, says that her eyes were open and 
fixed and her jaw fallen. She put her hand upon her 
mouth and nostrils, but could perceive no breath. She 
thought her to be in a fit; and doubted whether she 
were dead or alive. 

" The next morning this dying woman told her mother 
that she had been at home with her children, 'That is 
impossible,' said the mother; 'for you have been in bed 
all the while.' 'Yes,' replied the other, 'but I was 
with them last night when I was asleej).' 

"The nurse at Eochester, widow Alexander by name, 
affirms, and says she will take her oath on't before a 
magistrate, and receive the sacrament upon it, that a 
little before two o'clock that morning she saw the like- 
ness of the said Mary Goffe come out of the next chamber, 
(where the elder child lay in a bed by itself,) the door 
being left open, and stood by her bedside for about a 
quarter of an hour; the younger child was there lying 
by her. Her eyes moved and her mouth went; but she 
said nothing. The nurse, moreover, says that she was 
perfectly awake; it was then daylight, being one of the 
longest days in the year. She sate up in her bed and 
looked stedfastl}^ upon the apparition. In that time she 
heard the bridge-clock strike two, and a while after 
said, 'In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, 
what art thou'/' Thereupon the appearance removed, 
and went away; she slipp'd on her cloaths and followed, 
but what became on't she cannot tell. Then, and not 
before, she began to be grievously affrighted, and went 
out of doors and walked upon the wharf (the house is 
just on the river-side) for some hours, onlj^ going in now 


and then to look to the children. At five-a-clock she 
went to a neighbor's house, and knocked at the door; 
but they would not rise. At six she went again; then 
they rose, and let her in. She related to them all that 
had pass'd: they Avould persuade her she was mistaken 
or dreamt. But she confidently affirmed, 'If ever I 
saw her in all my life, I saw her this night.' 

"One of those to whom she made the relation (Mary, 
the wife of John Sweet) had a messenger came from 
Mulling that forenoon, to let her know her neighbor 
Goffe was dying, and desired to speak with her. She 
went over, the same day, and found her just departing. 
The mother, among other discourse, related to her how 
much her daughter had long'd to see the children, and 
said she had seen them. This brought to Mrs. Sweet's 
mind what the nurse had told her that morning; for 
till then she had not thought to mention it, but disguised 
it, rather, as the woman's disturbed imagination. 

"The substance of this I had related to me by John 
Carpenter, the father of the deceased, the next day after 
her burial. July the second, I fully discoursed the 
matter with the nurse and two neighbors to whose house 
she went that morning. Two days after, I had it from 
the mother, the minister that was with her in the even- 
ing, and the woman who sat up with her that last night. 
The}^ all agree in the same story, and every one helps 
to strengthen the other's testimony. They appear to 
be sober, intelligent persons, far enough off from de- 
signing to impose a cheat upon the world, or to manage 
a lye; and what temptation they could lye under for so 
doing, I cannot conceive. 

'•Sir, that God would bless your pious endeavors for 
the conviction of Atheists and Sadduces, and the pro- 
moting of true religion and godliness, and that this 
narrative mav conduce somewhat towards the further- 


ing of that great work, is the hearty desire and praj'er 

"Your most foithful friend 

'^And humble servant, 
" Tho. Tilson, Ministe?' of Aylesford, 

nigh Maidstone^ in Kent. 

"Aylesford, July 6, 1691." 

This story, simply and touchingly told, is a narrative of 
events alleged to have occurred in the same year in which 
Baxter's work was published, — to wit, in 1691; related 
by a clergyman of the vicinity, writing of circumstances 
all of which had transpired within five weeks of the 
day on which he wrote, and most of which he had verified 
within five days of the date of his letter, — namely, on 
the 2d and 4th of July, 1691. The names and residences 
of all the witnesses are given, and the exact time and 
place of the occurrences to which they testify. It would 
be difficult to find any narrative of that da}' better attested. 

The exception which doubters will take to it is not, 
probably, that the witnesses conspired to put forth a 
falsehood, for that is incredible; but that the dying 
mother, inspired with preternatural strength by the 
earnest longing after her children, had actually arisen 
during the night between the 3d and 4th of June, had 
found her way from West Mulling to Eochester, entered 
her dwelling and seen her children, and then returned, 
before morning, to her father's house; that Mrs. Turner, 
as sick-nurses will, had fallen asleep, and, even if she 
did awake and miss her patient before her return, had 
refrained from saying a word about it, lest she might 
be taxed with neglect of duty. And, in support of such 
a hypothesis, skepticism might quote this anecdote, re- 
lated by Sir Walter Scott.* 

* "Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft,^' by Sir Walter Scott, Bart., 2(i 
ed., 1857, pp. 371 to 374. 


A philosophical ckib at Plymouth were wont to hold 
their meetings, during the summer months, in a cave 
by the sea-shore, and at other times in a summer-house 
standing in the garden of a tavern, to the door of which 
garden some of the members, living adjacent, had pri- 
vate pass-keys. The members of the club presided 
alternately. On one occasion the president of the even- 
ing was ill, — reported to be on his death-bed; but, from 
respect, his usual chair was left vacant. Suddenly, wliilc 
the members were conversing about him, the door opened, 
and the apj)earance of the president entered the room, 
wearing a white wrapper and night-cap, and presenting 
the aspect of death, took the vacant place, lifted an 
empty glass to his lips^ bowed to the company, replaced 
his glass, and stalked out of the room. The appalled 
company, after talking over the matter, dispatched two 
of their number to ascertain the condition of their presi- 
dent. When they returned with the frightful intelli- 
gence that he had just expired, the members, fearing 
ridicule, agreed that they would remain silent on the 

Some years afterward, the old woman who had acted 
as sick-nurse to the deceased member, being on her 
death-bed, confessed to her physician, who happened to 
be one of the club, that, during her sleep, the patient, 
who had been delirious, awoke and left the apartment; 
that, on herself a^vaking, she hurried out of the house 
in search of him, met him returning, and replaced him 
in bed, where he immediatel}' died. Fearing blame for 
her carelessness, she had refrained from saying any thing 
of the matter. 

Scott, in quoting this and a few other simple explana- 
tions of what might seem extraordinary occurrences, 
remarks, that "to know what has been discovered in 
many cases, gives us the assurance of the ruling cause 


in all."* Nothing can be more illogical. It is a trouble- 
some thing to get at the truth; but if we desire to get 
at it we must take the trouble. If it be a tedious pro- 
cess, it is the only safe one, to test each example by evi- 
dence sought and sifted (as the diplomatic phrase is) 
ad hoc. If, because we detect imposture in a single case, 
we slur over twenty others as equally unreliable, we are 
acting no whit more wisely than he who, having re- 
ceived in a certain town a bad dollar, presently con- 
cludes- that none but counterfeits are to be met with 
there. It ought to make him more careful in examining 
the next coin he receives ; nothing more. And so we, 
knowing that in some cases, as in this of the Plymouth 
club, appearances may deceive, should be upon our guard 
against such deceit, — not conclude that in every analo- 
gous example the same or similar explanation will 

"Will it serve in the Mary Goffe case? The distance 
between her father's house and her own was nine miles. 
Three hours to go and three to return, six hours in all, 
— say from eleven till five o'clock, — would have been 
required to travel it by a person in good health, walk- 
ing, without stopping, at an ordinary pace. One can 
believe, as in the Plymouth example, that a patient, in 
delirium, may, very shortly before his death, walk a few 
hundred yards. But is it credible that a dying woman, 
so weak that her friends considered her unfit to be 
taken out of her bed, should walk eighteen miles un- 
aided and alone? The nurse declares that her patient 
fell into a trance between one and two o'clock, and that 
she put her hand upon her mouth and nostrils, but could 
perceive no breath. Suppose this a falsehood, invented 
to shelter negligence: can we imagine that, after a visit 
from a clergyman at ten, the nurse, attending a person 

* " Dcmonologii aiidWitvhcra/f" p. 367. 


hourly expected to die, should fall asleep before eleven 
o'clock, and not wake till after five, or that, if she did 
Avake and find her patient gone, she would not alarm 
the house ? Eut grant all these extreme imjn-obabilities. 
Can we believe that the father and mother of a dying 
woman w^ould both abandon her on the last night of her 
life for more than six hours ? Or can we suppose, under 
such circumstances, that the patient could issue from 
her chamber and the house before eleven o'clock, and 
return to it after five, unseen by any one, either in going 
or returning ? 

Nor are these the only difficulties. Mrs. Goffe herself 
declared, next morning, that it w^as in dream only she 
had seen her children. And if this was not true, and 
if she actually walked to Eochester, is it credible that 
she would but look, in silence, for a fcAV minutes, on her 
sleeping babes, and then, quitting them without even 
a word of farewell, recommence the Aveary way to her 
father's house? "When she so earnestly begged her 
husband to hire a horse, wdiat was the argument Avith 
Avhich she urged her request? "She must go home, 
and die wdth the children." 

I submit to the judgment of the reader these con- 
siderations. Let him gi\'e to them the Aveight to which 
he may deem them entitled. But if, finally, he incline 
to the theory of a nocturnal journey by the patient, 
then I beg of him to consider in what manner he will 
disj)ose of the parallel case, — that of the Eev. Mr. Wil- 
kins, where the distance between mother and son was a 
hundred miles ? 

Abercrombie, admitting the facts of this latter case 
as Wilkins states them, merely says, "This singular 
dream must ha\^e orio-inated in some strono; mental im- 
pression Avhich had been made on both individuals 
about the same time; and to haA^e traced the source of 
it Avould haA^e been a subject of great interest." 

N 17 

194 ABEllCilUMBlE'H OriNlON. 

I cannot suppose that Abercrombie here means a 
mental impression accidentally made on mother and son 
at the same time. He was too good a logician not to 
know whither such a doctrine as that would lead. IT 
we are to imagine all the details adduced, as the fruitless 
attempt to enter the front door, the entering by the 
back door, the going up-stairs and passing on to the 
paternal bedchamber, the exact terms of the question, 
the precise words of the reply, finally, the cessation of 
the dream or vision by mother and son at the very 
same point, — if, I say, we are to permit ourselves to in- 
terpret coincidences so numerous and minutely par- 
ticular as these to be the mere effect of chance, where 
will our skepticism stop? Perhaps not until we shall 
have persuaded ourselves, also, that this world, withi 
all it contains, is but the result of a fortuitous com- 

But if, as is doubtless the case. Dr. Abercrombie 
meant to intimate that this simultaneous impression 
on two distant minds must have occurred in accordance 
with some yet undiscovered psychological law, which it 
would be interesting to trace out, we may well agree 
with him in opinion. 

It does not appear, however, that he regarded the 
incident in any other light than as an example of coin- 
ciding and synchronous dreams. AVhether that be the 
true hypothesis may be questioned. In another chap- 
ter* will be adduced such evidence as 1 have obtained 
that the appearance of a living person at a greater or 
less distance from where that person actuall}^ is, and 
perhaps usually where the thoughts or affections of that 
person may be supposed, at the moment, to be concen- 
trated, is a phenomenon of not infrequent occurrence. 
If it be admitted, it may furnish the true explanation 

*■ Sco Book IV. chap, i., on '' Appaiitiona of the Liviny." 


of the Wilkin s dream, the Goffe dream, and others 
similar in character. 

The ingenious author of the ^'Philosophy of Mys- 
terious Agents/' who eschews every thing like Spiritual- 
ism, in dealing with the Wilkins narrative, of which he 
admits the authenticity, says, '' It certainly shows a 
strange and hitherto unknown physical agent in or by 
which the brain may act even at a great distance, and 
produce physical results perfectly repi'esenting the cere- 
bral action when the mind's controlling power is sus- 

If this, as may happen, should seem to the reader 
somewhat obscure, let him, to aid his conceptions, take 
another paragraph. After copying the story itself, Mr. 
Rogers subjoins, " This is easily accounted for by the 
method we are considering this class of phenomena; 
and we can see no other in which there are not insupera- 
ble difficulties. In this case we have again the condi- 
tion required for the play of mundane powers in refer- 
ence to the brain; and that in which the brain, as a 
point, being irritated, may act, and by the mundane 
agency represent its action (as in this case) fifty miles 
or more distant. "f 

It does not strike me that by this method of Mr. 
Eogers the strange phenomenon we have been consider- 
ing is, as he thinks, easily accounted for. How does he 
account for it? The doctrine of chance, he sees, is 
quite untenable. The doctrine of Sj)iritualism he re- 
pudiates. To avoid both, he suggests that ,the brain of 
the son, in Devonshire, being in activity during the sus- 
pended volition incident to sleep, represented its action 
on the brain of the mother, a hundred miles off, in 

* "Philosophy of Mysterious Agents^ Human and Mundane" by E. C. Rogers, 
Boston, 1853, p. 283. 

t Work cited, pp. 284, 285. 


Gloucestershire; and that this represented action was 
due to a mundane agency strange and unknown. 

To say that the two minds were, in some mode or 
other, placed in relation, is only an admission that the 
coincidence of sensations and ideas in both was not 
fortuitous. If, as we may freely further admit, the 
agency be, as Mr. Rogers alleges, strange and unknown, 
why assume it to be physical? And by such assump- 
tion do we account for the phenomenon, — not to say 
easily, but at all? Have we done more than employ 
vague words ? — and words, vague as they are, which 
we do not seem justified in employing? What do wo 
know about a brain, irritated, acting physically at a 
hundred miles' distance ? What do we mean by such a 
brain representing its action, at that distance, on another? 
What sort of mundane agency can we imagine as the 
instrument of such action? And if we are to esteem a 
mere physical agent capable of thus connecting, without 
regard to distance, mind with mind, what need of any 
hypothetical soul or spirit to account for the entire 
wondrous range of mental phenomena ? 

Here again it behooves us to ask whither, in an 
attempt to escape the hypothesis of spiritual agency, 
our steps are invited ? To the confines, it would seem, 
of materialism. 

As the class of phenomena we have been here examin- 
ing will usually be regarded as among the least credible 
of those connected with the subject of dreaming, I may 
state that the above are not the only examples on re- 
cord. Kerner, in his " Seeress of Prevorst,'' furnishes 
one, attested by himself and by a physician attending 
the seeress's father.* Sinclair records another ;f but 

*■ "Die Seherin von Prcvomt" by Justinus Kerner, 4th edition, Stuttgart, 
1846, pp. 132 to 134. 

fin his " Satan'8 Invisible World Discovered," Edinburgh, 1789. It is 
the story of Sir (icorge IIorton,\vho is stated to have dreamed that ho inter- 


how good the authority is in this last case 1 am not able 
to say. 

An important inquiry remains unbroached. Are 
there any reliable cases presenting, or seeming to pre- 
sent, evidence that the faculty of prescience in dreams 
is an actual phenomenon, and that this faculty is some- 
times enjoyed, as clairvoyance is said to be, specially by 
certain persons ? Arc there — as the phrase has been 
used in resjard to the allec:ed second-sio-ht of the Scot- 
tish Highhxnds — seers, thus habitually gifted ? 

Distinguished men have asserted that there are; 
Goethe, for example, in regard to his maternal grand- 
father. I translate from his Autobiography. 


" But what still increased the veneration with which 
we regarded this excellent old man was the conviction 
that he possessed the gift of prophecy, esj)ecially in re- 
gard to matters that concerned him and his. It is true 
that he confided the full knowledge and particulars of 
this faculty to no one except our grandmother ; yet we 
children knew well enough that he was often informed, 
in remarkable dreams, of things that were to happen. For 
example, he assured his wife, at a time when he was still 
one of the youngest magistrates, that at the very next 
vacancy he would be appointed to a seat on the board of 
aldermen. And when, very soon after, one of the alder- 
men was struck with a fatal stroke of apoplexy, he 
ordered that, on the day when the choice was to be 
made by lot, the house should be arranged and every 
thing prepared to receive the guests coming to congra- 
tulate him on his elevation. And, sure enough, it was 
for him that was drawn the golden ball which decides the 

fered to prevent bis two sons fighting a duel, and actually to have appeared 
to them, and prevented it, sixty miles oflf, at the same time. 



choice of aldermen in Frankfort. The dream which 
foreshadowed to him this event he confided to his wife, 
as follows. He found himself in session with his col- 
leagues, and every thing was going on as usual, when 
an alderman (the same who afterward died) descended 
from his seat, came to my grandfather, politely begged 
him to take his place, and then left the chamber. Some- 
thing similar happened on occasion of the provost's 
death. It was usual in such case to make great haste 
to fill the vacancy, seeing that there was always ground 
to fear that the emperor, who used to nominate the 
provost, would some day or other re-assert his ancient 
privilege. On this particular occasion the sheriff re- 
ceived orders at midnight to call an extra session for 
next morning. When, in his rounds, this officer reached 
ray grandfather's house, he begged for another bit of 
candle, to replace that which had just burned down in 
his lantern. ' Give him a whole candle,' said my grand- 
father to the women : 'it is for me he is taking all this 
trouble.' The event justified his words. He was actu- 
ally chosen provost. And it is worthy of notice that, 
the person who drew in his stead having the third and 
last chance, the two silver balls were drawn first, and 
thus the golden one remained for him at the bottom of 
the bag. 

" His dreams were matter-of-fact, simple, and without 
a trace of the fantastic or the superstitious, so far, at 
least, as they ever became, known to us. I recollect, 
too, that when, as a boy, I used to look over his books and 
papers, I often found, mixed up with memoranda about 
gardening, such sentences as these: — 'Last night * * * 
came to me and told me * * *,' — the name and the cir- 
cumstance being written in cipher. Or, again, it ran 
thus : — ' Last night I saw * * *,' — the rest in characters 
unintelligible to me. It is further remarkable, in this 
connection, that certain persons who had never pos- 


sessed any extraordinary power sometimes acquired it, 
for the time-being, when they remained near him; for 
example, the faculty of presentiment, by visible signs, in 
cases of sickness or death occurring at the time, but at 
a distance. Yet none either of his children or of his 
grandchildren inherited this peculiarity/^* 

The particular examples here cited may be explained 
away; but it is evident that Goethe, who had the best 
means of knowing, regarded the proofs that his grand- 
father really was endowed with this prophetic instinct 
to be conclusive. 

Macario mentions a similar case, the evidence for 
which seems unquestionable. I translate from his work 
on Sleep. 


" Here is a fact which occurred in my own family, 
and for the authenticity of which I vouch. Madame 
Macario set out, on the 6th of July, 1854, for Bourbon 
FArchambault, for the benefit of the waters there, in a 
rheumatic affection. One of her cousins. Monsieur 

O ,who inhabits Moulins, and who habitually dreams 

of any thing extraordinary that is to happen to him, 
had, the night before my wife set out, the following 
dream. He thought he saw Madame Macario, accom- 
panied by her little daughter, take the railroad-cars, to 
commence her journey to the Bourbon baths. AVhen he 
awoke, he bade his wife prepare to receive two cousins 
with whom she was yet unacquainted. They would 
arrive, he told her, that day at Moulins, and would 
set out in the evening for Bourbon. ' They will surely 
not fiiil,' he added, ' to pa}' us a visit.' In effect, my 
wife and daughter did arrive at Moulins ; but, as the 

* "Alls mclncm Lehen," by J. W. von Goethe, Stuttgart, 1S53, vol. i. pp. 
41 to 4.3. 


weather was veiy bad, the rain falling in torrents, thc}^ 
stopped at the house of a friend near the railroad-sta- 
tion, and, their time being short, did not visit tlicir 
cousin, who lived in a distant quarter of the town. He, 
however, was not discouraged. ^Perhaps it may be 
to-morrow,' he said. But the next day came, and no 
one appeared. Being thoroughly persuaded, neverthe- 
less, on account of his experience in finding such dreams 
come true, that his cousins had arrived, he went to the 
office of the diligence that runs from Moulins to Bourbon, 
to inquire if a lady, accompanied by her daughter, (de- 
scribing them,) had not set out the evening before for 
Bourbon, They replied in the affirmative. He then 
asked where that lady had put up at Moulins, went to 
the house, and there ascertained that all the particulars 
of his dream were exactly true. In conclusion, I may 

be allowed to remark that Monsieur O had no 

knowledge whatever of the illness nor of the projected 
journey of Madame Macario, whom he had not seen for 
several years."* 

The remarkable feature in the above is the confidence 
of Monsieur O in the presage of his dream, indi- 
cating that he had good reason to trust in similar intima- 

* " Du SommeU, des Jieves, et du SomnambuUsme," par M. Macario, pp. 
82, 83. 

The incident reminds one of Scott's lines, in which, in the " Lady of the 
Lake," Ellen addresses Fitz-James : — 

As far as yesternight 

Old Allan-Bane foretold your plight; 
A gray-haired sire, whose look intent 
Was on the visioned future bent. 
He saw your steed, a dappled gray. 
Lie dead beneath the birchen way ; 
Painted exact your form and mien, 
Your hunting-suit of Lincoln green 

And bade that all should ready be 
To grace a guest of fair degree. 


tions. For the rest, it is difficult to call in question the 
truth or the accuracy of an observation as to which the 
evidence is so direct and the authority so respectable. 

Considering the extraordinary character of this alleged 
faculty of foresight, or prophetic instinct, in dreams, I 
esteem myself fortunate in being able to adduce several 
other well-authenticated narratives directly bearing upon 
it. It does not appear, however, that in these cases, as 
in the preceding, the dreamers were habitual seers. 

In the first, a highly improbable event was fore- 
shadowed, with distinctness, a year before it occurred. 
I had the narrative in writing from a lady, whose name, 
if it were proper for me to give it, would be to the 
public an all-sufficient voucher for the truth of the story. 


"Mrs. Torrens, the widow of General Torrens, now 
residing at Southsea, near Portsmouth, about a year 
previous to the Indian mutiny dreamed that she saw 
her daughter, Mrs. Hayes, and that daughter's husband, 
Captain Hayes, attacked by sepoys; and a frightful 
murderous struggle ensued, in which Captain Hayes 
was killed. 

^/She wrote instantly to entreat that her daughter 
and the children would presently come home ; and, in 
consequence of her extreme importunity, her grand- 
children arrived by the following ship. This was before 
an idea was entertained of the mutiny. I have seen 
these children often, in safety, at Southsea. Mrs. Hayes 
remained Avith her husband, and suffered the Avhole 
horrors of the siege at Lucknow, where Captain Hayes 
fell by the hands of sepoys, — who first -put out his eyes, 
and then killed him." 

I shall now present an anecdote, as directly authenti- 
cated as either of the foregoing, which I find in the Ap- 


pendcx to Dr. Biniis' "Anatomy of Sleep."* It was 
communicated to tlic author by the Hon. Mr. Talbot, 
father of the present Countess of Shrewsbury, and is 
given in his own words, and under his own signature, 
(the title only added by me,) as follows : — 


"In the year 1768, my father, Matthew Talbot, of 
Castle Talbot, county Wexford, was much surprised at 
the recurrence of a dream three several times during 
the same night, wdiich caused him to repeat the whole 
circumstance to his lady the next morning. He dreamed 
that he had arisen as usual, and descended to his library, 
the morning being hazy. He then seated himself at his 
secretoire to write ; when, happening to look wp a long 
avenue of trees opposite the window, he perceived a man 
in a blue jacket, mounted on a white horse, coming to- 
ward the house. My father arose, and opened the 
w^indow : the man, advancing, presented him with a roll 
of papers, and told him they w^ere invoices of a vessel 
that had been wrecked and had drifted in during the 
night on his son-in-law's (Lord Mount Morris's) estate, 
hard by, and signed ^Bell and Stephenson' 

" My father's attention was called to the dream only 
from its frequent recurrence ; but when he found him- 
self seated at his desk on the misty morning, and beheld 
the identical person whom he had seen in his dream, in 
the blue coat, riding on a gray horse, he felt surprised, 
and, opening the window, waited the man's approach. 
He immediately rode up, and, drawing from his pocket a 
packet of papers, gave them to my father, stating that 
they were invoices belonging to an American vessel 
which had been wrecked and drifted upon his lordship's 
estate; that there w^as no person on board to lay claim 

^^ ''The Anatomy of Sleep," by Edward Binns, M.D., 2d ed., London, 1845, 
pp. 459, 460. 


Co the wreck; but that the invoices were signed '>SYe- 
phensofi and Bell/ 

" I assure you, my dear sir, that the above actually 
occurred, and is most faithfully given ; but it is not more 
extraordinary than other examples of the prophetic 
powers of the mind or soul during sleep, which I have 
frequently heard related. 

" Yours, most faithfully, 

" William Talbot. 

"Alton Towers, Octoler 23, 1842." 

In the above we find the same strange element of 
slight inaccuracy mixed with marvelous coincidence of 
detail already several times noticed. The man with his 
blue coat; the white or gray horse; the vessel wrecked 
on Lord Mount Morris's estate; the roll of invoices pre- 
sented, — all exhibit complete correspondence between 
the foreshadowing dream and the actual occurrences. 
The names on the invoices, too, correspond; but the 
order in wdiich they stand is reversed : in the dream, 
"Bell and Stephenson;" on the invoices themselves, 
" Stephenson and Bell." 

Lest I should weary the reader by too much extend- 
ing this chapter, and by too great an accumulation of ex- 
amples, which might (as to many of the points noticed) 
be multiplied without limit, while perhaps those cited 
may suffice as a fair specimen of the w^hole, I shall 
adduce but one more, — an example quite as remarkable 
as any of the preceding, of prevision in dream ; a nar- 
rative wdiich was verified by one of the most accredited 
writers on intellectual philosophy, (for such Dr. Aber- 
crombie must be admitted to be,) and for wdiich, in 
addition, I have obtained an important voucher. Dr. 
Abercrombie, after declaring that he is " enabled to 
give it as perfectly authentic," relates it (without the 
title here given) in these words : — 



" A lady dreamed that an aged female relative had 
been murdered by a black servant; and the dream oc- 
curred more than once.* She was then so much im- 
pressed by it that she went to the house of the lady to 
whom it related, and prevailed upon a gentleman 
to watch in an adjoining room during the following 
night. About three o'clock in the morning, the gentle- 
man, hearing footsteps on the stairs, left his place of 
concealment, and met the servant carrying up a 
quantity of coals. Being questioned as to where he 
was going, he replied, in a confused and hurried manner, 
that he was going to mend his mistress's fire; which, 
at three o'clock in the morning, in the middle of sum- 
mer, was evidentlj^ impossible ; and, on further investi- 
gation, a strong knife was found concealed beneath the 

This narrative, remarkable as it is, is not given in 
sufficient detail. It does not intimate whether the 
lady who dreamed knew or not, at the time, that her 
aged relative had a negro servant. Nor does it say 
any thing of the subsequent conduct and fate of that 
servant. Nor does it furnish the names of the par- 
ties. I am, fortunately, enabled to suj^ply these defi- 

While in Edinburgh, in October, 1858, I had occasion 
to submit this chapter to a lady, — the daughter of a 
distinguished statesman, and herself well known by 

* It is worthy of attention that many of these rcmarlvable dreams occur 
more than once, as if (one might suppose) to produce on the dreamer the 
deeper impression. In the preceding dream by Mr. Talbot, in that which 
disclosed the death of Pcreival, in Mrs. Griffith's warning dream, in Alder- 
man Clay's dream, and others, the vision was thrice repeated. 

f "Intellectual Poicers," p. 214. 


numerous and successful works, — who, in returning it to 
me, kindly appended to the above narrative the follow- 
ing note : — 

'* This lady was Mrs. Euthcrford, of Egerton, grand- 
aunt of Sir Walter Scott; and I have myself heard the 
story from the family. The lady who dreamed was the 
daughter of Mr. Egerton, then absent from home. On 
her return, she was astonished, on entering her 
mother's house, to meet the very black servant whom 
she had seen in her dream, as he had been engaged 
during her absence. This man was, long afterward, 
hung for murder; and, before his execution, he con- 
fessed that he had intended to assassinate Mrs. Euthcr- 

The story, with this attesting voucher, — giving the 
names of the persons referred to, and supplying par- 
ticulars which greatly add to the value of the illustra- 
tion, — is, I think, the very strongest example of pre- 
vision in dream I ever met with. Let us briefly 
scrutinize it. 

In the first place, the dream indicated two particu- 
lars: the one, that the dreamer's mother would be mur- 
dered ; the other, that the murder would be committed 
by a negro. Had the daughter known that her mother 
had a black servant, it would not be proper to regard 
these as separate contingencies : indeed, something in 
the man's manner might be imagined to have created 
suspicion, and so given shape to the dream. Eut the 
daughter did not knoiv, when she dreamed, that her 
mother had a negro servant. She was astonished to meet 
him, on her return home. This is one of the strongest 
points in the case; for it precludes all argument that 
the negro's concern in the matter was naturally sug- 
gested to the dreamer. 

Here, then, is the indication in dream of two inde- 
pendent sj)ecifications, correctly to have determined 


cither of which Avould huve been, if an accident, one 
of which the mathematical expectation is exceedingly 
emalL In the quiet of domestic life, in a civilized 
country and a respectable rank, a deliberate murder 
does not occur to one out of millions of persons. There 
Avere milHons to one, then, against the fortuitous pre- 
dicting, in the case of a particular individual, of that 
single event. So, again, in regard to the other specifi- 
cation. Negroes are rare in Scotland. Had the dream 
merely been that a negro would commit a murder in 
Edinburgh, without designating the murdered person, 
how difficult to imagine, in case the event, occurring 
wdthin a few days, had justified the prediction, that 
BQch fulfillment was purely accidental! But when there 
is question of the double event, the mathematical ex- 
pectation diminishes till, in practice, it may be re- 
garded as inappreciable. The chances against that 
double event, as a purely fortuitous occurrence, are 
such as we constantly act upon in daily life with the 
same assurance as upon certainty itself. 

It is true that, with that inexplicable dimness of 
vision which seems so often to characterize similar phe- 
nomena, the coming event is indicated onl}', not distinctly 
foretold. The daughter's dream was that her mother 
had been murdered ; and this had not taken place. The 
effect upon her mind, however, aided by the repetition 
of her dream, was such as to cause her to take pre- 
cautions against such a contingency in the future; and 
it so happened that on the very night the precaution 
was taken the attempt was made. Here is a third coin- 

Was this all accident? Was there no warning given? 
Was there no intention, by acting in dream on the 
daughter's mind, to save the mother's life? If wo 
answer these questions in the negative, are we not 
discarding the clearest rules of evidence which, at the 


bidding- of reason^ we have adopted for the government 
of daily life? 

But if; on the other hand, wo admit that there ivas 
a warning, — that there was an intention, — then, who 
gave that warning ? And what intelligence was it that 

It may be regarded as a mere cutting of the Gordian 
knot to assume the theory of spiritual guardianship.* 
Yet, if that theory be rejected, have we any other with 
which to supply its place ? 

But, without touching further for the present on this 
latter hypothesis, let us here pause for a moment to 
reflect whither the actual evidence at which we have ar- 
rived — culled, surely, from no suspicious source — is lead- 
ing us on? If we assent to it, — if, with Abercrombie and 
the indorser of his narrative touching Mrs. Eutherford's 
negro servant, we feel compelled to admit that narra- 
tive as a fact, — shall we ignore the legitimate, the 
unavoidable, consequences? Shall we continue, with 
JVIacnish, to declare that the belief in the occasional 
power of dreams to give us an insight into futurity is 
"an opinion so singularly unphilosophical" as to be 
unworthy of notice? Shall we put aside, unexamined, 
with contempt or derision, instead of scrutinizing with 
patient care, the j)retensions of certain observers as to 
the higher phenomena said to characterize some states 
of somnambulism, — as clearsight, farsight, and this 
very faculty of prevision? If we are to speak of the 
singularly unphilosophical, such a proceeding as this 
would surely supply a remarkable example of it. 

And is there not abundant justification for the re- 
mark heretofore made, that it behooves us, if we 
would obtain a comprehensive view of this subject, to 

-•'■ See, in this connection, the narratives entitled " The RrjecUd Suiio) 
and "How Senator Linn's Life wwi Snred :" both in Book V. 


study all the various li3'])notic states in their connec- 
tion -with each other? Before we undertake the "won- 
ders of mesmerism, let us dispose of the greater wonders 
of sleep. 

Finally, that such inquiry should be slighted is the 
less defensible, seeing that it occurs in Christian coun- 
tries, where the Bible is read and its teachings vene- 
rated. But if there be one doctrine there taught 
plainly, unequivocally, by direct allegation and by 
numerous examples, in the Old Testament as in the 
'New, it is the same which has prevailed, as Cicero 
reminds us,* in every nation, whether polished and 
learned, or barbarous and unlettered; the doctrine, 
namely, that in the visions of the night men occasion- 
ally receive more than is taught them throughout all 
the waking vigilance of the day. 

The illustrations of such a doctrine are scattered all 
over the Bible. The Old Testament especially is full 
of them: witness the dreams of Abimelech, of Pharaoh, 
of Saul, of Solomon, of IN'ebuchadnezzar; and, again, 
of Jacob, of Laban, of Daniel. But, passing by the Old 
to the dreams of the j^ew Testament, we find that upon 
certain of these repose, in a measure, some of the very 
articles of faith cardinal to the creed of the orthodox 
church, whether Protestant or Catholic. Such are the 
dreams of the "VYise Men of the East, of Joseph, of the 
wife of Pilate. 

It is very true, and should be here taken into ac- 
count, that most writers who deny to dreams any extra- 
ordinary or prophetic character make exception, 
directly or by implication, of those recorded in Scrip- 
ture. But Scripture itself nowhere authorizes any 
such distinction. Elihu announces a general truth in 
general terms: — ''In slumberings upon the bed, God 

i: ''De Dhlnatione," lib. i. §^ 1, 2, and 3. 


openeth the ears of men and sealeth their instruction." 
Shall we limit this to the men of any particular age? 
By what warrant? By a similar license, can we not 
explain aw^ay any text whatever? that, for instance, 
with which Elihu closes his eloquent remonstrance: — 
" God respecteth not any that are wnse of heart." 
Many will he found disregarding, in practice, the im- 
plied warning against presumjDtuous self-sufficiency, but 
few bold enough to allege that, though the observation 
applied to the self-wise in the times of Job, it is anti- 
quated and inapplicable, in these latter days, to our- 

If w^e would not be found thus bold in casuistry, — if, 
in connection with the phenomena here briefly and im- 
perfectly examined, we accept and take home in our 
own case the lesson embodied in Elihu's w^ords, — we may 
be induced to conclude that it behooves us to devote more 
time and attention to an important and neglected sub- 
ject* than men have hitherto bestow^ed upon it, before 
authoritatively pronouncing, as to all modern dreams 
w^hatever, that they are the mere pui'poseless w^anderings 
of a vagrant imagination j that they never exhibit an 
intelligence which exceeds that of the waking sense; 
that never, under any circumstances, do they disclose 
the distant or foreshadow the future; that never, in 
any case, do they warn or avert: in a word, that all 
visions of the night, without exception, are utterly 
inconsequent, fantastic, and unreliable. 

* Abercrombie concludes his chapter on Dreaming as follows : — " The 
slight outline which has now been given of dreaming may serve to show 
that the subject is not only curious, but important. It appears to bo 
worthy of careful investigation ; and there is much reason to believe that 
an extensive collection of authentic facts, carefully analyzed, would unfold 
principles of very great interest in reference to the philosophy of the 
mental powers." — "Intellectual Potoers" p. 224. 




"For this is not a matter of to-day 
Or yesterday, but bath been from all time; 
And none can tell us whence it came, or how." 


That extraordinary and influential movement, com 
monly denominated spiritual, which has overrun these 
United States, and has spread hence, to a greater or 
less extent, over every country of Europe, had its origin 
in a phenomenon, or alleged phenomenon, of the charac- 
ter which has usually been termed a haunted house. 

In a work like the present, then, it is fitting that this 
class of phenomena, slighted and derided by modern 
Sadducism though they be, should have place as worthy 
of serious examina,tion. 

And in prosecuting such an examination, by citing 
the hest-attested examples, the fair question is not, 
whether in these each minute particular is critically 
exact; — for what history, ancient or modern, would 
endure such a test ? — but whether, in a general way, the 
narratives bear the impress of truth; whether there be 
sufficient evidence to indicate that tlic}^ are based on a 
substantial realit}^ Iti such an inquiry, let us take with 
us two considerations: remembering, on the one hand, 



that, when the passions of wonder and fear are strongly 
excited, men's imaginations are prone to exaggerate; 
and, on the other, that, as elsewhere set forth,* there 
are no collective hallucinations. 

The fair question is, then, whether, even if this haunt- 
ing of houses be often a mere popular superstition, there 
be yet no actual truth, no genuine phenomena, under- 
lying it. 

In winnowing, from out a large apocrj-phal mass, 
the comparatively few stories of this class which come 
down to us in authentic form, vouched for by respectable 
cotemporary authority, sustained by specifications of 
time and place and person, backed sometimes by judicial 
oaths, one is forcibly struck by the observation that, in 
thus making the selection, we find thrown out all stories 
of the ghostly school of horror, all skeleton specters 
with the worms creeping in and out, all demons with 
orthodox horns and tail, all midnight lights burning 
blue, with other similar embellishments; and there 
remain a comparatively sober and prosaic set of 
wonders, — inexplicable, indeed, by any known physical 
agency, but shorn of that gaudy supernaturalism in 
which Anne Eadcliffe delighted, and which Horace 
Walpole scorned not to employ. 

In its place, however, we find an element which by 
some may be considered quite as starthng and imjDrobable. 
I allude to the mischievous, boisterous, and freakish 
aspect which these disturbances occasionally assume. 
So accustomed are we to regard all spiritual visitations, 
if such there be, as not serious and important only, but 
of a solemn and reverential character, that our natural 
or acquired repugnance to admit the reality of any 
phenomena not explicable by mundane agency is greatly 

* See next chapter, where the distinction is made between illusion and 
hallucination ; the one based on a reality, the other a mere disease of the 


increased when wo discover in them mere whim and 

It is very certain that, if disturbances of the character 
alluded to be the w^ork of disembodied spirits, it appears 
to be of spirits of a comparatively inferior order; as 
imps, w^e might say, of frolic and misrule ; not wicked, 
it would seem, or, if wucked, restrained from inflicting 
serious injury, but, as it were, tricksy elves, sprit-es full 
of pranks and levities, — a sort of Pucks, — "esprits 
espiegles," as the French phrase it; or as the Germans, 
framing an epithet expressly for this supposed class of 
spirits, have expressed it, poltergeister. 

If it may be plausibly argued that w^e cannot reason- 
ably imagine spirits revisiting the scenes of their former 
existence with no higher aim, for no nobler purpose, 
than these narratives disclose, it must be conceded also, 
for the very same reason, that men w^ere not likely to 
invent stories of such a character with no actual found- 
ation whereupon to build. Imagination, once at work, 
would not restrict itself to knockings, and scrapings, and 
jerking furniture about, and teasing children, and 
similar petty annoyances. It would conjure up some- 
thing more impressive and mysterious. 

But my business here is with facts, not theories; with 
what we find, not with w^hat, according to our present 
notions, we might expect to find. How much is there 
in nature, which, if w^e sat down beforehand to conjec- 
ture probabilities, would directly belie our anticipations ! 

And in making choice of facts, or what purj^ort to bo 
so, I shall not go back further than two centuries.* 

-■■" Those who are disposed to amuse themselves (for, in truth, it amounts 
to little more than amusement) may find in various ancient writers narra- 
tives of haunted houses, apparently as well attested as any other portion 
of the history of the time. Pliny the Younger has one (Plin. Junior, 
Epist. ad Suram. lib. vii. cap. 27) which he relates as having occurred to 
the philosopher Athenodorus. The skeptical Lucian (in Philo-paend. p, 
8-10) relates another of a man named Arii^notes. In later day?, Antonio 


Until printing became a common art, and books were 
freely read beyond the limits of a learned and restricted 
circle, a narrative of questionable events could not ob- 
tain that extended circulation which would expose it to 
general criticism, afford fair chance for refutation, and 
thus give to future ages some guarantee against the fre- 
quent errors of an ex-parte statement. 

Torquemada (in his " Flores Curtosas," Salamanca, 1570) has the story of 
a certain Vasquez de Ayola. In all these three cases a specter is alleged 
to have disappeared on a spot where, on digging, a skeleton was found. 
Alexander ab Alexandro, a learned Neapolitan lawyer of the fifteenth cen- 
tury, states, as a fact of common notoriety, that in Rome there are a num- 
ber of houses so much out of repute as being haunted that no one will ven- 
ture to inhabit them; and he adds, that, desiring to test the truth of what 
was said in regard to one of these houses, he, along with a friend named 
Tuba and others, spent a night there, when they were terrified by the ap- 
pearance of a phantom and by the most frightful noises and disturbances. 
— Alexander ab Alexandro, lib, v. cap. 23. 

A hundred similar cases might be adduced, especially from the writings 
of the ancient fathers, as St. Augustin, St. Germain, St. Gregory, and others. 

But no reliable inference can be drawn from these vague old stories, 
except the universal prevalence, in all ages, of the same idea. 



" I bavo no humor nor delight in telling stories, and do not publish these 
for the gratification of those that have ; but I record them as arguments for 
the confirmation of a truth, which hath indeed been attested by multitudes 
of the lilce evidences in all places and times." — Rev. Joseph Glanvil : 
Pref. to his Sadducismus Trhnnphatus. 

The first narrative I select was the object of interest 
and controversy all over England for twenty years and 
more, and was published, almost at the time of the 
alleged occurrences, by a man of character and station. 


Disturbances at Mr. Mompesson's house at Tedworth. 

1661 to 1603. 

The Eev. Joseph Glanvil, chaplain-in-ordinary to 
Charles IL, was a man well and favorably known in his 
day, as much by various theological works as by his 
defense of the Baconian philosoj^hy, and as the cham- 
pion, against certain detractors, of the Eoyal Society, of 
which he was a member. 

In the year 1666 he published his ''Sadducismus Tri- 
umjyJiatus," in which, to sustain the popular opinions of 
that age on the subject of witches and apparitions, he 
includes what he calls a '^choice collection of modern 
relations." Most of these are from hearsay, some based 
on the confessions of the accused and other evidences 
now admitted to be untrustworthy; but the first and 
principal relation, entitled by Glanvil " The Dromon of 
Tedworth,'^ is of a different character, being a narrative 
of events occurring, at intervals throughout two entire 


years, in the house of a gentleman of character and 
standing, Mr. John Mompesson, of Tedworth, in the 
county of AYilts; a portion of which events were wit- 
nessed by Glanvil himself. 

It appears that in March, 1661, Mr. Mompesson, in 
his magisterial capacity, had caused to be arrested a 
vagrant drummer, who had been annoying the country 
by noisy demands for charity, and that he had caused 
his drum to be taken from him and left in the bailiff's 
hands. This fact Mr. Mompesson imagined to be con- 
nected with the disturbances that followed, and of which 
the chief details are here given, quoted literally from 
Glanvil's work. 

<^ About the middle of April following, (that is, in 
1661,) when Mr. Mompesson was preparing for a journey 
to London, the bailiff sent the drum to his house. When 
he was returned from that journey, his wife told him 
that they had been much affrighted in the night by 
thieves, and that the house had like to have been broken 
up. And he had not been at home above three nights 
when the same noise was heard that had disturbed the 
family in his absence. It was a very great knocking at 
his doors and the outsides of his house. Hereupon he 
got up and went about the house with a brace of pistols 
in his hands. He opened the door where the great 
knocking was, and then he heard the noise at another 
door. He opened that also, and went out round his 
house, but could discover nothing, only he still heard a 
strange noise and hollow sound. When he got back to 
bed, the noise was a thumping and drumming on the top 
of his house, which continued a good space, and then by 
degrees went off into the air. 

'^ After this, the noise of thumping and drumming was 
very frequent, usually five nights together, and then it 
would intermit three. It was on the outsides of the 
house, which was most of it of board. It constantly 


came as they were going to-sleep, whether early or late. 
After a month's disturbance without, it came into the 
room where the drum lay, four or five nights in seven, 
within half an hour after they were in bed, continuing 
almost two. The sign of it, just before it came, was an 
hurling in the air over the house; and at its going off, 
the beating of a drum like that at the breaking up of a 
guard. It continued in this room for the space of two 
months, which time Mr. Mompesson himself lay there 
to observe it."* 

During Mrs. Mompesson's confinement, and for three 
weeks afterward, it intermitted; but '^ after this civil 
cessation," says Glanvil, "it returned in a ruder manner 
than before, and followed and vext the youngest chil- 
dren, beating their bedsteads with that violence, that all 
present expected when they would fall to pieces. In 
laying hands on them, one should feel no blows, but 
might perceive them to shake exceedingly. For an 
hour together it would beat 'Eound-Heads and Cuckolds,' 
the * Tat-too,' and several other points of war, as well 
as any drummer. After this, they would hear a scratch- 
ing under the children's bed, as if by something that had 
iron talons. It would lift the children up in their beds, 
follow them from one room to another, and for a while 
haunted none particularly but them." 

The next portion of the recital is still more marvelous; 
and Glanvil states that the occurrences took place in the 
presence of a minister of the gospel, Mr. Cragg, and of 
many neighbors who had come to the house on a visit. 

"The minister went to prayers with them, kneeling 
at the children's bedside, where it was then very trouble- 
some and loud. During prayer-time it withdrew into 

* ''Sadducismits Trinmphntus ; or, Full and Plain Evidence concerning 
Witches and Apparitions," by Joseph Glanvil, lato Chaplain-in-ortlinary to 
His Majesty, and Follow of tho Royal Society, 3d cd., London, 1689, pp. 


the cock-] oft, but returned as soon ns prayers were 
done; and then, in sight of the company, the chairs walkt 
about the room of themselves, the children's shoes were 
hurled over their heads, and every loose thing moved 
about the chamber. At the same time a bed-staff was 
thrown at the minister, but so favorably, that a lock of 
wool could not have fallen more softly; and it was ob- 
served, that it stopt just where it lighted, without rolling 
or moving from the place." (p. 324.) 

However whimsical and unlikely all this may appear, 
we shall find it paralleled in modern examples occurring 
both in Europe and America. 

The next extract introduces a new feature, well de- 
serving our attention. It is the earliest indication I 
have found, of that responding of the sounds, Avith ap- 
parent intelligence, which has expanded in these United 
States to such vast proportions. 

^'Mr. Mompesson perceiving that it so much perse- 
cuted the little children, he lodged them at a neighbor's 
house, taking his eldest daughter, who Avas about ten 
years of age, into his own chamber, where it had not 
been a month before. As soon as she was in bed, the 
disturbance began there again, continuing three weeks, 
drumming and making other noises; and it was observed 
that it would exactly answer in drumming any thing thai 
ivas beaten or called, for J' (p. 324.) 

Here is another extract, confirming similar observa- 
tions touching the conduct of animals during like dis- 
turbances elsewhere. 

"It was noted that when the noise was loudest, and 
came with the most sudden and surprising violence, 
no dog about the house would move, though the knock- 
ing was oft so boisterous and rude, that it hath been 
heard at a considerable distance in the fields, and 
awakened the neighbors in the village, none of which 
live very near this." (p. 324.) 



Tlic disturbances continued throughout two years, some 
of them being recorded (p. 332) as having taken place 
in the month of April, 1663. Mr. Mompesson and his 
friends ascribed them to the malice of the drummer, in 
league with the Evil One. And in this they were con- 
firmed b}^ the following incidents, occurring in the 
month of January, 1662. Those who have any expe- 
rience in similar communications of our day know well 
how little confidence ought to be placed in such, when 
uncorroborated by other evidence, except as an indica- 
tion of some occult intelligence. 

"During the time of the knocking when many were 
present, a gentleman of the company said, ' Satan, if the 
drummer set thee to w^ork, give three knocks and no 
more;' which it did very distinctly, and stopt. Then 
the gentleman knockt, to see if it would answer him as 
it was wont; but it did not. For fiirther trial, he bid it, 
for confirmation, if it were the drummer, to give five 
knocks and no more that night, which it did, and left 
the house quiet all the night after. This was done in 
the presence of Sir Thomas Chamberlain, of Oxford, 
and divers others." (p. 326.) 

So far the narrative, as derived by our author from 
Mr. Mompesson and others; but Mr. Grlanvil himself 
visited the scene of the disturbance in January, 1662, and 
gives us the result of his personal observations, as fol- 
lows : — 

"About this time I went to the house, on purpose to 
inquire the truth of those passages, of which there was 
so loud a report. It had ceased from its drumming and 
ruder noises before I came thither; but most of the more 
remarkable circumstances before related were confirmed 
to me there, by several of the neighbors together, who 
had been present at them. At this time it used to haunt 
the children, and that as soon as they were laid. They 
went to bed that night I was there, about eight of the 


clock, Avhen a maid-servant, coming down from them, 
toid us it was come. Tlie neighbors that were there, 
and two ministers who had seen and heard divers times, 
w^ent away; but Mr. Mompesson and I, and a gentleman 
that came with me, went up. I heard a strange scratch- 
ing as we went up the stairs, and when we came into 
the room, I perceived it was just behind the bolster of 
the children's bed, and seemed to be against the tick. 
It was loud scratching, as one with long nails could 
make upon a bolster. There were two little modest 
girls in the bed, between seven and eleven years old, as 
I guest. I saw their hands out of the cloaths, and they 
could not contribute to the noise that w^as behind their 
heads. They had been used to it, and had still some- 
body or other in the chamber with them, and therefore 
seemed not to be much affrighted. I, standing at the 
bed's head, thrust my hand behind the bolster, directing 
it to the place whence the noise seemed to come. 
Whereupon the noise ceased there, and was heard in 
another part of the bed. But when I had taken out my 
liand it returned, and was heard in the same place as 
before. I had been told that it would imitate noises, 
and made trial by scratching several times upon the 
sheet, as 5, and 7, and 10, which it followed and still 
stoj^ped at my number. I searched under and behind 
the bed, turned up the clothes to the bed-cords, graspt 
the bolster, sounded the wall behind, and made all the 
search that possibly I could, to find if there were any 
trick, contrivance, or common cause of it: the like did 
my friend; but we could discover nothing. So that I 
v/as then verily persuaded, and am so still, that the noise 
w^as made by some daemon or spirit. After it had 
scratched about half an hour or more, it went into the 
midst of the bed, under the children, and there seemed 
to pant, like a dog out of breath, very loudly. I put my 
hand upon the place, and felt the bed bearing up against 

220 glanvil's remarks. 

it, as if something within had thrust it up. I grasped 
the feathers to feel if any living thing were in it. I 
looked under, and everywhere about, to see if there 
were any dog or cat, or any such creature, in the room, 
and so we all did, but found nothing. The motion it 
caused by this panting was so strong, that it shook the 
rooms and windows very sensibly. It continued more 
than half an hour, while my friend and I staid in the 
room; and as long after, as we were told. 

"It will, I know, be said, by some, that my friend and 
I were under some affright, and so fancied noises and 
sights that were not. This is the eternal evasion. But if 
it be possible to know how a man is affected when in fear, 
and when unconcerned, 1 certainly know, for mine own 
part, that during the whole time of my being in the 
room, and in the house, I was under no more affright- 
ment, than I am while I write this relation. And if I 
know that I am now awake, and that I see the objects 
that are before me, I know that I heard and saw the 
particulars that I have told." (pp. 328 to 330.) 

Mr. Glanvil concludes the relation, the repetitions and 
less interesting portions of which, for brevity's sake, I 
have omitted, as follows : — 

"Thus I have written the sum of Mr. Mompesson's 
disturbance, which I had partly from his own mouth 
related before divers, who had been witnesses of all, and 
confirmed his relation; and partly from his own letters, 
from which the order and series of things is taken. The 
same particulars he writ also to Dr. Creed, then Doctor 
of the chair in Oxford." (p. 334.) 

It remains to bo stated that, some time after the 
drummer's first conimitment, Mr. Mompesson had him 
again taken up for felony, (under the statute of I. James, 
chap. 12,) for the supposed witchcraft about his house. 
The grand jury found a true bill; but, to the honor of 
the petty jury be it said, the man was acquitted, his 


connection with the disturbances not being proved. 
The reality of the disturbances was sworn to by various 
witnesses. To this fact Mr. Morapesson alludes in a 
letter written by him to a Mr. James Collins, dated 
Tedworth, August 8, 1674, and published entire in 
Grlanvil's book. I quote from that letter : — 

" The evidence upon oath were m3^self, Mr. "William 
Maton, one Mr. Walter Dowse, — all yet living, and, I 
think, of as good repute as any this country has in it, — 
and one Mr. Joseph Cragg, then minister of the place, 
but since dead. A7e all deposed several things that we 
conceived impossible to be done by any natural agents, 
as the motion of chairs, stools, and bed-staves, nobody 
being near them, the beating of drums in the air over 
the house in clear nights, and nothing visible, the 
shaking of the floor and strongest parts of the house in 
still and calm nights, with several other things of the 
like nature.'"^ 

In another letter, addressed by Mr. Mompesson to Mr. 
Glanvil himself, under date November 8, 1672, he says, — 

" Meeting with Dr. Pierce accidentally at Sir Hobert 
Button's, he acquainted me of something that passed be- 
tween my Lord of E and yourself about my troubles, 

&c. ) to which (having but little leisure) I do give you this 
account : That I have been very often of late asked the 
question, MYhether I have not confessed to his majesty, 
or any other, a cheat discovered about that affair.' To 
which I gave, and shall to my dying day give, the same 
answer: That I must belie myself, and perjure m^'self 
also, to acknowledge a cheat in a thing where I am sure 
there neither was or could be any, as I, the minister of 
the place, and two other honest gentlemen deposed at the 
assizes upon my impleading the drummer. If the world 

* Mompesson's letter to Collins, given entire in the preface to the second 
part of Glanvil's '' Saddacismus TrutinjjJtatus," 3d ed., l(iS9, Jt does not ap* 
pear in the 1st edition, not having been then written. 



will not believe it, it shall be indifferent to me, praying God 
to keep mc from the same or the like affliction."* 

Such is a eompcndiiim of the essential facts in this case, 
literally extracted from Glanvil's work, to which for a 
more detailed account the curious reader is referred. 

In connection with tlie above narrative, it is chiefly to 
be noted, — 

That the disturbances continued for two entire years, 
namely, from April, 1661, until April, 1663 ; and that Mr. 
Mompesson took up his quarters for the night, for two 
months at a time, in a particular chamber, expressly for 
the purpose of observing them. 

That the sounds produced were so loud as to awaken 
the neighbors in the adjoining village, at a considerable 
distance from Mr. Mompesson's house. 

That the motion in the children's bed, in Mr. Glanvil's 
presence, was so great as sensibly to shake the doors 
and windows of the house. 

That the facts, collected by Glanvil at the time they 
occurred, Avere published by him four years afterward, 
to wit, in 1666; and that the more important of these 
facts were SAVorn to in a court of justice. 

That ten years after these occurrences took place, 
and when it w^as reported that Mr. Mompesson had ad- 
mitted the discovery of a trick, that gentleman explicitly 
denied that he had ever discovered any natural cause for 
the phenomena, and in the most solemn manner indorsed 
his former declarations to Mr. Glanvil. 

* The letter is given entire in the preface to Glanvil's work, 3d edition. 
It is remarkable how unscrupulously some men who ought to know 
better deny, Avithout any foundation, the truth of some unwelcome fact. 
In the *' Philosophij of Jf>js(ery," by Walter Cooper Dendy, Fellow and 
Honorary Secretary to the Medical Society of Loudon, the author, speaking 
of the " mystery of the Demon of Tedworth," says, " This also was the 
source of extreme wonder until the drummer was tried and convicted and 
Mr. Mompesson confessed that the mystery was the effect of contrivance." — 
Chapter " Ilhififraiinn of }fi/stpn'ou'i Souinfs," pp. 149, 150. 

r.LANVir/s REMARKS. 228 

When to these considerations are added the following 
remarks of Mr. Glanvil regarding the character of Mr. 
Monipesson and the chances of imposture under the 
circumstances, the reader has before him all the mate- 
rials forjudging in this case. 

^'Mr. Monipesson is a gentleman of whose truth in 
this account I have not the least ground of suspicion, 
he being neither vain nor credulous, but a discreet, saga- 
cious, and manly person. Xow, the credit of matters of 
fact depends much upon the relators, who, if they can- 
not be deceived themselves nor supposed anyways inte- 
rested to impose upon others, ought to be credited. For 
upon these circumstances all human faith is grounded, 
and matter of fact is not capable of any proof besides 
but that of immediate sensible evidence. ISToay, this 
gentleman cannot be thought ignorant whether that he 
relates be true or no, — the scene of all being his own 
house, himself the witness, and that not of a circum- 
stance or two, but of an hundred, nor of once or twice 
only, but for the space of some years, during w^hich he 
was a concerned and inquisitive observer. So that 
it cannot with any show of reason be supposed that 
any of his servants abused him, since in all that time he 
must needs have detected the deceit. And what interest 
could any of his family have had. (if it had been possi- 
ble to have managed without discovery) to continue so 
long, so troublesome, and so injurious an imposture ? 
jS^or can it with any whit of more probability be imagined 
that his own melancholy deluded him, since (besides 
that he is no crazy nor imaginative person) that humor 
could not have been so lasting and pertinacious. Or, if 
it were so in him, can we think he affected his whole 
family and those multitudes of neighbors and others 
who had so often been witnesses of those passages ? 
Such supposals are wild, and not like to tempt any but 
those whose wills are their reasons. So that, upon the 


whole, the principal relator, Mr. Mompesson himself, 
knew whether what he reports was true or not, whether 
those things acted in his house were contrived cheats or 
extraordinary realities. And, if so^ what interest could 
he serve in carrying on or conniving at a juggling de- 
sign and imposture ? 

'^ He suffered by it in his name, in his estate, in all his 
affairs, and in the general peace of his family. The un- 
believers in the matter of spirits and witches took him 
for an impostor. Many others judged the permission of 
such an extraordinary evil to be the judgment of God 
upon him for some notorious wickedness or impiety. 
Thus his name was continually exposed to censure, and 
his estate suffered by the concourse of peoj^le from all 
parts to his house; by the diversion it gave him from 
his affairs ; by the discouragement of servants, by reason 
of which he could hardly get any to live with him. To 
which I add, the continual hurry that his family was in, 
the affrights, and the watchings and disturbance of his 
whole house, (in which himself must needs be tlie most 
concerned.) I say, if these things are considered, there 
will be little reason to think he would have any interest 
to put a cheat upon the world in which he would most 
of all have injured and abused himself."* 

Leaving this case in the reader's hands, I pass to 
another, occurring in the eighteenth century. 


Disturbances in Mr. Wesley's parsonage at Epworth. 

1716 and 1717. 

In the 3'ear 1716, the Kev. Samuel Wesley, father of 
the celebrated John AYesley the founder of Methodism, 
was rector of Epworth, in the county of Lincoln, Eng- 
land. In his parsonage-house, the same in which John 
was born, there occurred, throughout the months of 

* " Sadducifjmis Triumjyhatus," pp. 334 to 336. 


December, 171G, and of January, 1717, sundry disturb- 
ances, of Avliieh Mr. Samuel Wesley kept a detailed 
journal. The particulars are further preserved in twelve 
letters written on the subject, at the time, to and from 
various members of the family. In addition to this, 
Mr. John Wesley himself went down to Epworth in the 
year 1720, inquired carefully into the particulars, re- 
ceived statements in writing from each member of the 
fiimily touching what they had seen and heard, and 
compiled from these a narrative which he published in 
the '^Arminian Magazine.'' 

The original documents were preserved in the family, 
came into the hands of Mrs. Earle, grand-daughter of 
Mr. Samuel Wesley, (the eldest brother of John,) were 
intrusted by her to a Mr. Babcock, and by him given 
to the well-known Dr. Joseph Priestley, by whom the 
whole were first published in 1791.* 

They have been reprinted by Dr. Adam Clarke, in 
his " Memoirs of the Wesley Family."-]- They cover 
forty-six pages of that work; and, as they contain 
numerous repetitions, I content myself with tran- 
scribing a portion only, commencing with the narrative 
drawn up by Mr. John Wesley, to which I have already 


" On December 2, 1716, while Eobert Brown, my 
father's servant, was sitting with one of the maids, a 
little before ten at night, in the dining-room, which 
opened into the garden, they both heard one knocking 
at the door. ■ Eobert rose and opened it, but could see 

•;:.- •• Orifjinal Letters uxj the Rev. John Wesley and his Friends, illustrative 
of his Early History," with other Curious Papers, communicated by the 
late Rev. S. Babcock. To Avhich is prefixed An Address to the Method- 
ists, by Joseph Priestlej', LL.D., F.R.S., <fec., London, 1791: an octavo 
volume of 170 pages. This pamphlet is scarce. 

■j" "Memoirs of the Wesley Family," collected principally from original 
documents. By Adam Clarke, LL.D., F.A.S., 2d ed., London, 1843. 


nobody. Quickly it knocked again, and groaned. ' It 
is M-r. Turpine/ said Eobert : ' he has the stone, and 
uses to groan so.' He opened the door again twice or 
thrice, the knocking being twice or thrice repeated; 
but, still seeing nothing, and being a little startled, 
they rose up and went to bed. AYhen Eobert came to 
the top of the garret stairs, he saw a handmill which 
was at a little distance whirled about very swiftl}". 
When he related this he said, ' IS'ought vexed me but 
that it Avas empty. I thought if it had but been full 
of malt he might have ground his heart out for me.' 
When he was in bed, he heard as it were the gobbling 
of a turkej^-cock close to the bedside, and soon after the 
sound of one stumbling over his shoes and boots ; but 
there was none there: he had left them below. The 
next day, he and the maid related these things to the 
other maid, who laughed heartily, and said, ' What a 
couple of fools are you ! I defy any thing to fright 
me.' After churning in the evening, she put the butter 
in the tray, and had no sooner carried it into the dairy 
than she heard a knocking on the shelf where several 
puncheons of milk stood, first above the shelf, then 
below. She took the candle, and searched both above 
and below, but, being able to find nothing, threw down 
butter, tray, and all, and ran away for life. The next 
evening, between five and six o'clock, my sister Molly, 
then about twenty years of age, sitting in the dining- 
room reading, heard as if it were the door that led 
into the hall open, and 'a person walking in that 
seemed to have on a silk night-gown, rustling and 
trailing along. It seemed to walk round her, then to 
the door, then round again; but she could see nothing. 
She thought, 'It signifies nothing to run away; for, 
whatever it is, it can run faster than me.' So she rose, 
put her book under her arm, and walked slowly away. 
After supper, she was sitting with my sister Sukey 


(about a year older than her) in one of the chambers, 
and telling her Avhat had happened. She made quite 
light of it, telling her, ' I wonder you are so easily 
frighted: I would fain see what would fright me.' Pre- 
sently a knocking began under the table. She took 
the candle and looked, but could find nothing. Then 
the iron casement began to clatter, and the lid of a 
warming-pan. Next the latch of the door moved up 
and down without ceasing. She started up, leaped 
into the bed without undressing, pulled the bed-clothes 
over her head, and never ventured to look up until next 

^^A night or two after, my sister Hetty (a year 
younger than my sister Molly) was waiting as usual, 
between nine and ten, to take away my father's candle, 
when she heard one coming down the garret stairs, 
walking slowly by her, then going down the best 
stairs, then up the back stairs, and up the garret stairs ; 
and at every step it seemed the house shook from top 
to bottom. Just then my father knocked. She went 
in, took his candle, and got to bed as fast as possible. 
In the morning she told this to my eldest sister, who 
told her, ^ You know I believe none of these things : 
pray let me take away the candle to-night, and I will 
find out the trick.' She accordingly took my sister 
Hetty's place, and had no sooner taken away the candle 
than she heard a noise below. She hastened down- 
stairs to the hall, where the noise was, but it was then 
in the kitchen. She ran into the kitchen, where it was 
drumming on the inside of the screen. When she 
went round, it was drumming on the outside, and so 
always on the side opposite to her. Then she heard a 
knocking at the back kitchen door. She ran to it, un- 
locked it softly, and, when the knocking was repeated, 
suddenly opened it; but nothing was to be seen. As 
soon as she had shut it, the knocking began again. 


She opened it again, but could sec nothing. When she 
went to shut the door, it was violently thrust against 
her; but she set her knee and her shoulder to the door, 
forced it to, and turned the kc}'. Then the knocking 
began again ; but she let it go on, and went up to bed. 
However, from that time she was thoroughly convinced 
that there was no imposture in the affair. 

" The next morning, my sister telling my mother 
what had happened, she said, '■ If I hear any thing 
myself, I shall know how to judge.^ Soon after she 
begged her to come into the nursery. She did, and 
heard, in the corner of the room, as it were the violent 
rocking of a cradle; but no cradle had been there for 
some 3"ears. She was convinced it was preternatural, 
and earnestly prayed it might not disturb her in her 
own chamber at the hours of retirement; and it never 
did. She now thought it was proper to tell my father. 
But he was extremely angry, and said, ' Sukey, I am 
ashamed of you. These boys and girls frighten one 
another; but you are a woman of sense, and should 
know better. Let me hear of it no more.' 

"At six in the evening he had family prayers as usual. 
When he began the prayer for the king, a knocking 
began all round the room, and a thundering knock 
attended the Amen. The same was heard from this 
time every morning and evening while the prayer for 
the king was repeated. As both my father and mother 
are now at rest, and incapable of being pained thereby, 
I think it my duty to furnish the serious reader with a 
key to this circumstance. 

*' The year before King William died, my father ob- 
served my mother did not say amen to the prayer for 
the king. She said she could not, for she did not 
believe the Prince of Orange was king. He vowed he 
would never cohabit Avith her until she did. He then 
took his horse and rode away; nor did she hear any 


thing of him for a twelve-month. He then came back, 
and lived with her as before. But I fear his vow was 
not forgotten before God. 

'^ Being informed that Mr. Iloole, the vicar of Haxey, 
(an eminently j^ious and sensible man,) could give mo 
some further information, I walked over to him. He 
said, 'Eobert Brown came over to me, and told me 
your father desired my company. When I came, he 
gave me an account of all that had happened, par- 
ticularly the knocking during family prayer. But that 
evening (to my great satisfaction) we had no knocking 
at all. But between nine and ten a servant came in, 
and said, ^'Old Jeffrey is coming, (that was the name of 
one that died in the house,) for I hear the signal." This 
they informed me was heard every night about a quarter 
before ten. It was toward the top of the house, on the 
outside, at the northeast corner, resembling the loud 
creaking of a saw, or rather that of a Avindmill when 
the body of it is turned about in order to shift the sails 
to the wind. We then heard a knocking over onr 
heads; and Mr. Wesley, catching up a candle, said, 
"Come, sir, now you shall hear for yourself" We went 
np-stairs; he with much hope, and I (to say the truth) 
with much fear. When we came into the nursery, it 
was knocking in the next room; when we went there, 
it was knocking in the nursery. And there it con- 
tinued to knock, though we came in, particularly at the 
head of the bed (which was of wood) in which Miss 
Hetty and two of her younger sisters lay. Mr. Wesley 
observing that they were much affected, — though 
asleep, sweating, and trembling exceedingly, — was very 
angry, and, pulling out a pistol, was going to fire at the 
place from whence the sound came. But I snatched 
him by the arm, and said, " Sir, you are convinced this 
is something preternatural. If so, you cannot hurt it; 
but you give it power to hurt you." He then went 



close to the place, and said, sternly, ^'Thou deaf and 
dumb devil ! why dost thou fright these children, that 
cannot answer for themselves? Come to me, in my 
study, that am a man !" Instantly, it knocked his 
knock (the particular knock which he always used 
at the gate) as if it would shiver the board to pieces; 
and we heard nothing more that night.' 

" Till this time my father had never heard the least 
disturbance in his study. But the next evening, as he 
attempted to go into his study, (of which none had the 
key but himself,) when he opened the door, it was thrust 
back with such violence as had like to have thrown him 
down. However, he thrust the door open, and went in. 
Presently there was a knocking, first on one side, then 
on the other, and, after a time, in the next room, wherein 
my sister Xancy was. He went into that room, and, 
the noise continuing, adjured it to speak, but in vain. 
He then said, ' These spirits love darkness : put out the 
candle, and perhaps it will speak.' She did so, and he 
repeated his adjuration; but still there was only knock- 
ing, and no articulate sound. Upon this he said, 'Nancy, 
two Christians are an overmatch for the devil. Go all 
of you down-stairs : it may be when I am alone he will 
have courage to speak.' When she was gone, a thought 
came in his head, and he said, ' If thou art the spirit of 
my son Samuel, I pray knock three knocks, and no 
more.' Immediately all was silence, and there was no 
more knocking at all that night. I asked my sister 
ISTancy (then fifteen years old) whether she was not 
afraid Avhen my father used that adjuration. She 
answered she was sadly afraid it would speak when she 
put out the candle : but she Avas not at all afraid in the 
day-time, when it walked after her, onl}^ she thought 
Avhen she was about her work he might have done it for 
her, and saved her the trouble. 

" By this time all my sisters were so accustomed to 


these noises that they gave them little disturbance. A 
gentle tapping at their bed-head usually began between 
nine and ten at night. They then commonly said to 
each other, 'Jeffrey is coming: it is time to go to sleep.' 
And if they heard a noise in the day, and said to my 
youngest sister, 'Hark, Kezzy, Jeffrey is knocking 
above,' she would run up-stairs and pursue it from room 
to room, saying she desired no better diversion. 

" A few nights after, my father and mother had just 
gone to bed, and the candle was not taken away, when 
they heard three blows, and a second and a third three, 
as it were with a large oaken staff, struck upon a chest 
which stood by the bedside. My father immediately 
arose, put on his night-gown, and, hearing great noises 
below, took the candle and went down ; vay mother 
walked by his side. As they went down the broad 
stairs, they heard as if a vessel full of silver was j)oured 
upon my mother's breast and ran jingling doAvn to her 
feet. Quickly after, there was a sound as if a large iron 
bell was thrown among many bottles under the stairs ; 
but nothing was hurt. Soon after, our large mastiff dog 
came, and ran to shelter himself between them. While 
the disturbances continued he used to bark and leap, 
and snap on one side and the other, and that frequently 
before any person in the room heard any noise at all. 
Eut after two or three days he used to tremble, and 
creep away before the noise began. And by this the 
family knew it was at hand; nor did the observation 
ever fail. 

" A little before my father and mother came into the 
hall, it seemed as if a very large coal was violently 
thrown upon the floor and dashed all in pieces; but 
nothing was seen. My father then cried out, ' Sukey, 
do 3'ou not hear ? all the pewter is thrown about the 
kitchen.' But when they looked, all the pewter stood 
in its place. There then was a loud knocking at the 


back door. My fatlier opened it, but saw nothing. It 
was then at the fore door. lie opened that, but it was 
still lost labor. After opening first the one, then the 
other, several times, he turned and went up to bed. But 
the noises were so violent over the house that he could 
not sleejD till four in the morning. 

" Several gentlemen and clergymen now earnestly ad- 
vised my fiither to quit the house. But he constantly 
answered, 'I^o : let the devil flee from me ; I will never 
flee from the devil.' But he wrote to my eldest brother, 
at London, to come down. He was preparing so to do, 
when another letter came informing him the disturb- 
ances were over, after they had continued (the latter 
part of the time day and night) from the 2d of Decem- 
ber to the end of January .''* 

The journal of Mr. Wesley, Sen., (p. 247,) fully corro- 
borates his son's narrative, adding some further parti- 
culars. He notices that, on the 23d December, in the 
nursery, when his daughter Emily knocked, it answered 
her. On another occasion, he says, ^' I went down-stairs, 
and knocked with my stick against the joists of the kit- 
chen. It answered me as often and as loud as I knocked; 
but then I knocked as I usually do at my door, — 1, — 
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, — 7 ; but this puzzled it, and it did not 
answer, or not in the same method, though the children 
heard it do the same exactly twice or thrice after." This 
corresponds with what Mr. Hoole said about "its knock- 
ing Mr. AYesley's knock," 

On the 25th of December, he says, " The noises were 
so violent it was vain to think of sleep while they con- 
tinued." So, again, on December 27, he adds, ''They 
were so boisterous that I did not care to leave my 
family," — as he wished to do, to pay a visit to a friend, 
Mr. Downs. 

* ''Jfemolrs of the Wesley Family," vol. i. pp. 253 to 200. 

EMILY Wesley's letter. 233 

He says, also, ^' I have been thrice pushed by an in- 
visible power, once against the corner of my desk in the 
study, a second time against the door of the matted 
chamber, a third time against the right side of the frame 
of my study door, as I was going in." 

As to the dog, under date December 25, his record is, 
" Our mastiff came whining to us, as he did always after 
the first niglitof its coming; for then he barked violent!}^ 
at it, but was silent afterwards, and seemed more afraid 
than any of the children." 

The letters corroborating the various details are too 
long and numerous to be here transcribed. I extract, 
as a specimen, from one written by Emily Wesley 
(afterward ilrs. Harper) to her brother Samuel. She 
says, — 

''I thank you for your last, and shall give you what 
satisfaction is in my power concerning wdiat has hap- 
pened in our family. I am so far from being supersti- 
tious, that I w^as too much inclined to infidelity: so that 
I heartily rejoice at having such an opportunity of con- 
vincing myself, past doubt or scruple, of the existence 
of some beings besides those w^e see. A whole month 
was sufficient to convince anybody of the reality of the 
thing, and to try all ways of discovering any trick, had 
it been possible for any such to have been used. I shall 
only tell you wdiat I myself heard, and leave the rest to 

" My sisters in the paper chamber had heard noises, 
and told me of them; but I did not much believe till one 
night, about a week after the first groans were heard, 
which was the beginning. Just after the clock had 
struck ten, I w^ent down-stairs to lock the doors, which 
I always do. Scarce had I got up the best stairs, when 
I heard a noise like a person throwing down a vast coal 
in the middle of the fore kitchen, and all the splinters 
seemed to fly about from it. I was not much frighted, 

234 KM 1 1 A' Wesley's account 

but went to my sister Sukcy, and we together went all 
over the low rooms; but there was nothing out of 

^' Our dog was fast asleep, and our only cat in the 
other end of the house. No sooner was I got up-stairs 
and undressing for bed, but I heard a noise among many 
bottles that stand under the best stairs, just like the 
throwing of a great stone among them Avhich had broken 
them all to pieces. This made mo hasten to bed. But 
m}^ sister Hetty, who sits always to wait on my father 
going to bed, was still sitting on the lowest step on the 
garret stairs, the door being shut at her back, when, 
soon after, there came down the stairs behind her some- 
thing like a man in a loose night-gown trailing after 
him, which made her fly rather than run to me in the 

" All this time we never told my father of it ; but soon 
we did. He smiled, and gave no answer, but was more 
careful than usual from that time to see us in bed, ima- 
gining it to be some of us young women that sat up late 
and made a noise. His incredulit}', and especially his 
imputing it to us or our lovers, made me, I own, de- 
sirous of its continuance till he was convinced. As for 
my mother, she firmly believed it to be rats, and sent for 
a horn to blow them away. I laughed to think how 
wisely they were employed who were striving half a 
day to fright away Jeffrey (for that name I gave it) 
with a horn. 

" But, whatever it was, I perceived it could be made 
angry ; for from that time it was so outrageous, there 
was no quiet for us after ten at night. I heard fre- 
quently, between ten and eleven, something like the quick 
winding-up of a jack at the corner of the room by my 
bed's head, just like the running of the wheels and the 
creaking of the iron-work. This was the common sig- 
nal of its coming. Then it would knock on the floor 


three times, then at my sister's bed's head, in the same 
room, almost always three together, and then stay. 
The sound was hollow and loud, so as none of us could 
ever imitate. 

"It would answer to my mother if she stamped on 
the floor and bid it. It would knock when I was put- 
ting the children to bed, just under me, where I sat. 
One time little Kezz}^, pretending to scare Polly, as I 
was undressing them, stamped with her foot on the 
floor; and immediately it answered with three knocks, 
just in the same place. It was more loud and fierce if 
any one said it was rats, or an}^ thing natural. 

'^I could tell you abundance more of it, but the rest 
will write, and therefore it would be needless. I was 
not much frighted at first, and very little at last; but it 
was never near me, except two or three times, and 
never followed me, as it did my sister Hetty. I have 
been with her when it has knocked under her; and when 
she has removed it has followed, and still kept just under 
her feet, which was enough to terrify a stouter person." 
(pp. 270 to 272.) 

Under date January 19, 1717, Mr. Samuel "Wesley, Jr., 
wrote to his mother, propounding certain questions, to 
which she most satisfactorily replied, adding, '' But, 
withal, I desire that my answers may satisfy none but 
yourself; for I would not have the matter imparted to any." 

From a memorandum of Mr. John Wesley, detailing 
the "general circumstances, of which most if not all the 
famih^ were frequent witnesses," I extract as follows : — 

"Before it came into any room, the latches were fre- 
quently lifted up, the windows clattered, and whatever 
iron or brass was about the chamber rung and jarred 

"When it was in any room, let them make what noise 
they would, as they sometimes did on purpose, its dead, 
hollow note would be clearly heard above them all. 


"The sound very often seemed in the air in the middle 
of a room; nor could they ever make any such them- 
selves, by any contrivance. 

'' It never came by day till my mother ordered the 
horn to be blown. After that time scarce any one could 
go from one room into another but the latch of the room 
they went to was lifted up before they touched it. 

'^It never came into my father's study till he talked 
to it sharply, called it deaf and dumb devil, and bid it 
cease to disturb the innocent children and come to him 
in his stud}' if it had any thing to say to him. 

"From the time of my mother's desiring it not to dis- 
turb her from five to six, it was never heard in her 
chamber from five till she came down-stairs, nor at any 
other time when she was employed in devotion." (pp. 
284, 285.) 

It remains to be stated that one member, at least, of 
the family, Emily Wesley, a portion of whose letter on 
the subject has already been given, conceived herself to 
have been followed by the Epworth spirit through life. 
Dr. Clarke states that he possesses an original letter 
from that lady to her brother John, dated February 16, 
1750, — that is, thirty-four years after the preceding 
events happened, — from which letter he publishes the 
following extract: — 

"I want sadly to see you, and talk some hours with 
you, as in times past. One doctrine of yours and of 
many more, — namely, no happiness can be found in any 
or all things in the world: that, as I have sixteen years 
of my own experience w^hich lie flatly against it, I want 
to talk with you about it. Another thing is, that won- 
derful thing called by us Jeftrey. You won't laugh at 
me for being superstitious if I tell you how certainly 
that something calls on me against any extraordinary 
new affliction; but so little is known of the invisible 

DR. Clarke's remarks. 237 

world that I, at least, am not able to judge whether it 
be a friendly or an evil spirit.'"*" 

As to the causes of these disturbances, Dr. Clarke has 
the following: — " For a considerable time all the family 
believed it to be a trick; but at last they were all satis- 
fied it was something supernatural.". . . "Mr. John 
Wesley believed that it was a messenger of Satan sent 
to buffet his father for his rash promise of leaviiTg his 
family, and very improper conduct to his wife, in conse- 
quence of her scruple to pray for the Prince of Orange 
as Kin ix of England." . . . " With others the house 
was considered as haunted." . . . ''Dr. Priestley 
thinks the whole trick and imposture. It must be, on 
his system of materialism; but this does not solve the 
difficulty ; it only cuts the knot." ..." Mrs. Wes- 
ley's opinion was different from all the rest, and was 
probably the most correct: she supposed that 'these, 
noises and disturbances portended the death of her bro- 
ther, then abroad in the East India Company's service.' 
This gentleman, who had acquired a large fortune, 
suddenly disappeared, and was never heard of more, — at 
least, as far as I can find from the remaining branches 
of the family, or from any of the family documents." 
(pp. 287 to 289.) 

These disturbances, though not so persistent as those 
of Tedworth, extended through two entire months, — a 
period sufficient, it would seem, for a fiimily so strong- 
minded and stout-hearted as the Wesleys to detect any 
imposture. And, unless we are to suspect Emily Wesley 
of a superstition which her letters are very far from 
indicating, phenomena of a somewhat similar character 
accompanied her through a long lifetime. 

Dr. Priestley, with all his skeptical leanings, speaking 

* "Jlemoirs of the Wcslet/ FamUj" vol. i. p. 286. 


of the Epworth narrative, is fain to admit that ^^it is 
perhaps the best-authenticated and the best-told story 
of the kind that is anywhere extant."* He enters, how- 
ever, into an argument to prove that there could be 
nothing supernatural in it; for which his chief reason 
is, that he could see no good to be answered by it. His 
conclusion is, "What appears most probable at this dis- 
tance of time, in the present case, is, that it was a trick 
of the servants, assisted by some of the neighbors; and 
that nothing was meant by it besides puzzling the family 
and amusing themselves;" a supposition which Dr. 
Clarke rejects. He says, expressly, "The accounts 
given of these disturbances are so circumstantial and 
authentic as to entitle them to the most implicit credit. 
The eye and ear witnesses were persons of strong under- 
standings and well-cultivated minds, un tinctured by 
.superstition, and in some instances rather skeptically 
inclined." And he adds, "Nothing apparently preter- 
natural can lie further beyond the verge of imposture 
than these accounts; and the circumstantial statements 
contained in them force conviction of their truth on the 
minds of the incredulous."f 

Southey, in his Life of Wesley, gives the account of 
these disturbances; and this is his comment upon it: — 

"An author who, in this age, relates such a story and 
treats it as not utterly incredible and absurd, must ex- 
pect to be ridiculed; but the testimony upon which it 
rests is far too strong to be set aside because of the 
strangeness of the relation'." . . . "Such things may 
be preternatural, and yet not miraculous; they may not 
be in the ordinary course of nature, and yet imply no 
alteration of its laws. And with regard to the good 
end which they may be supposed to answer, it would be 

* Dr. Priestley's pamphlet already cited, preface, p. xi. 
f '' Memoirs of the Wesley Family," vol. i. pp. 245, 246. 

Coleridge's opinion. 239 

end sufficient if sometimes one of those unhappy persons 
who, looking- through the dim glass of infidelity, see 
nothing beyond this life and the narrow sphere of mortal 
existence, should, from the well-established truth of one 
such story, (trifling and objectless as it might otherwise 
appear,) be led to a conclusion that there are more things 
in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in his philo- 

Coleridge's opinion was very differenf. In his copy 
of Southey's work, which he left to Southey, he wrote, 
against the storj^ of the Wesley disturbances, the follow- 
ing note: — "All these stories, and I could j)roduce fifty, 
at least, equally well authenticated, and, as far as the 
veracity of the narrators and the single fact of their 
having seen and heard such and such sights or sounds, 
above all rational skepticism, are as much like one an- 
other as the symptoms of the same disease in different 
patients. And this, indeed, I take to be the true and 
only solution; a contagious nervous disease, the acme 
or intensest form of which is catalepsy. — S. T. C."* 

It is an odd reason to allege against the credibility of 
such narratives that they are very numerous, and that 
in their general character they all agree. jS^or is the 
short-cut by which the poet reaches an explanation of 
the phenomena less remarkable. Wesley and his family, 
he admits, did see and hear what the}^ allege they did; 
but they were all eataleptics. What ! the mastiff also ? 

It is not my purpose, however, here to comment on 
these conflicting opinions, but only to submit them. 
They all come from men of high character and standing. 

I pass by various records of disturbances similar to 
the above, described as occurring in England and else- 

•;■:- << j'jig Asylum Journal of 3Icntal Science" (published by an Association 
of Medical Officers of Asylums and Hospitals for the Insane) for April, 
1858, London, p. 395. 


where throughout the eighteenth century, because in 
the details given there is little beyond what is to be 
found in the foregoing, and because, as none of them 
are vouched for by names of such weight as those which 
attest the preceding examples, they will surely not be 
received if the others be rejected. Some of these are 
noticed in the journals of the day: for example, one re- 
cently disinterred from the columns of the " ISTew York 
Packet," and W'hich appeared in its issue of March 10, 
1789. It is in the shape of a communication to the 
editor, dated Fishkill, March 3, 1789. The correspond- 
ent says, — 

" Were I to relate the many extraordinary^, though 
not less truC; accounts I have heard concerning that un- 
fortunate girl at New Havensack, j^our belief might 
perhaps be staggered and your patience tired. I shall 
therefore only inform joii of what I have been eye- 
witness to. Last afternoon my wife and myself went 
to Dr. Thorn's; and, after sitting for some time, we 
heard a knocking under the feet of a young woman 
that lives in the family. I asked the doctor what occa- 
sioned the noise. He could not tell, but replied that he, 
together with several others, had examined the house, 
but were unable to discover the cause. I then took a 
candle and went with the girl into the cellar. There 
the knocking also continued; but, as we were ascending 
the stairs to return, I heard a prodigious rapping on 
each side, which alarmed me very much. I stood still 
some time, looking around with amazement, when I 
beheld some lumber w^hich lay at the head of the stairs 
shake considerably. 

" About eight or ten da^^s after, we visited the girl 
ac-ain. The knockina; still continued, but was much 
louder. Our curiosity induced us to pay the third visit, 
when the phenomena were still more alarming. I then 
saw the chairs move ; a large dining-table was thrown 


against me; and a small stand, on whicli stood a candle, 
was tossed up and thrown in my wife's lap; after which 
we left the house, much surprised at what we had seen." 

Others were published in pamphlets at the time; as, 
the disturbances in Mrs. Golding's dwelling and else- 
where at Stockwell, occurring on the 6th and 7th of 
January, 1772, chiefly marked by the moving about 
and destruction of furniture in various houses, but 
always in the presence of Mrs. Golding and her maid. 
The pamphlet is reprinted in a modern publication.'^^ 

This case, however, Avith several others, including 
that of the '^electric girl" reported by Arago, seems to 
belong to a different class from those I am now relating; 
since in the latter the occult agency appears to have 
attached itself to persons and to have exhibited no 

Two other examples, of somewhat later date, and in 
which the annoyances suffered seem j^artly of a local, 
partly of a personal, character, will be found in that 
magazine of which John Wesley was for many years 
the editor. They are probably from his pen.-}- 

I pass on to an example occurring at the commence- 
ment of the present century on the continent of Europe. 

* By Mrs. Crowe, in her ''Night Side of Nature," pp. 412 to 422. The 
pamphlet is entitled "An authentic, candid, and circumstantial narrative of 
the astonishing transactions at Stockwell, in the county of Surrey, on 
Monday and Tuesday, the 6th and 7th January, 1772, containing a series 
of the most surprising and unaccountable events that ever happened, 
which continued, from first to last, upwards of twenty hours, and at different 
places. Published with the consent and approbation of the family and 
other parties concerned, to authenticate which the original copy is signed 
by them." 

f For the first, occurring to two sisters named Dixon, see the " Arminian 
Magazine" for the year 1786, pp. 660, 662. The disturbances commenced 
in 1779, and are said to have continued upward of six years. The second 
is given in the same magazine for 1787; commencing about a week before 
Christmas in the year 1780. 

Q 21 



Disturbances in Upper Silesia, 


In the month of Kovembcr, 1806, Councilor llahn, 
attached to the court of the then reigning Prince of 
Hohcnlohe Neuenstein-Ingelfingen, received orders from 
that prince to proceed to one of his castles in Upper 
Silesia, called Slawensik, there to await his orders. Hahn 
was accompanied by a certain Charles Kern, cornet in 
a hussar regiment, who had been taken prisoner by the 
French in a recent campaign against the Prussians, and 
had just returned on parole. 

Both Hahn and Kern were in good health, and were 
men free from all taint of superstition. Hahn had 
been a student of philosophy under Fichte, was an ad- 
mirer of Kant's doctrines, and at that time a confirmed 

Having been intimate friends in youth, they occupied 
at Slawensik the same chamber. It was a corner room 
on the first floor, the windows looking out on the north 
and east. On the right, as one entered this room, was 
a glass door, opening through a wainscot partition into 
another room, in w^hich household utensils were kept. 
This door w^as always kept locked. Neither in this 
latter room nor in that occupied by the two friends was 
there any opening communicating from without, except 
the windows. Ko one' at that time resided in the 
castle besides Hahn and Kern, except Hahn's servant 
and tAvo of the prince's coachmen. 

It w^as under these circumstances and in this locality 
that the folio wins; disturbances occurred. Thev were 
w^ritten out by Hahn in November, 1808; and in 1828 
the manuscript was communicated by the writer to T)r. 
Korner, the author of the " Seeress of Prevorst," and by 


him first published as confirmatory of somewhat similar 
phenomena Avitnessed by himself in the case of the seeress. 
I translate the chief part of Hahn's narrative, omitting 
some portions in which he relates what others had 
reiDorted to him; premising that it is written in the third 

"On the third evening after their arrival in the 
castle, the two friends were sitting reading at a table 
in the middle of the room. About nine o'clock their 
occupation was interrupted by the frequent falling of 
small bits of lime over the room. They examined the 
ceiling, but could perceive no signs of their having fallen 
thence. As they were conversing of this, still larger 
pieces of lime fell around them. This lime was cold to 
the touch, as if detached from an outside wall. 

" They finally set it down to the account of the old 
walls of the castle, and went to bed and to sleep. The 
next morning they were astonished at the quantity of 
lime that covered the floor, the more so as they could not 
perceive on walls or ceiling the slightest apj)earance of 
injury. B}^ evening, however, the incident was forgotten, 
until not only the same phenomenon recurred, but bits 
of lime were thrown about the room, several of w^hich 
struck Hahn. At the same time loud knockino-s, like 
the reports of distant artillery, were heard, sometimes 
as if on the floor, sometimes as if on the ceilimr. Aa'ain 
the friends went to bed; but the loudness of the knocks 
prevented their sleeping. Kern accused Hahn of caus- 
ing the knockings by striking on the boards that formed 
the under portion of his bedstead, and was not con- 
vinced 01 the contrary till he had taken the light and 
examined for himself Then Hahn conceived a similar 
suspicion of Kern. The dispute was settled by both 
rising and standing close together, during which time 
the knockings continued as before. Next evening, 
besides the throwing of lime and the knockings, they 


heard another sound, resembling the distant beating of 
a drum. 

'^ Thereupon they requested of a lady who had charge 
of the castle, Madame Knittel, the keys of the rooms 
above and below themj which she immediately sent 
them b}^ her son. liahn remained in the chamber 
below, while Kern and young Knittel went to examine 
the apartments in question. Above they found an 
empty room, below a kitchen. They knocked ; but the 
sounds were entirely different from those that they had 
heard, and which Hahn at that very time continued to 
hear, in the room below. When they returned from 
their search, Hahn said, jestingly, ' The place is haunted/ 
They again went to bed, leaving the candles burning; 
but things became still more serious, for they distinctly 
heard a sound as if some one with loose slippers on 
were walking across the room ; and this was accom- 
panied also with a noise as of a walking-stick on which 
some one was leaning, striking the floor step by step; 
the person seeming, as far as one could judge by the 
sound, to be walking up and down the room. Hahn 
jested at this, Ivern laughed, and both went to sleep, 
still not seriously disposed to ascribe these strange phe- 
nomena to any supernatural source. 

^'!N"ext evening, however, it seemed impossible to as- 
cribe the occurrences to any natural cause. The agency, 
whatever it was, began to throw various articles about 
the room; knives, forks, brushes, caps, slippers, padlocks, 
a funnel, snuffers, soap, fn short, whatever was loose 
about the apartment. Even candlesticks flew about, 
first from one corner, then from another. K the things 
had been left lying as they fell, the whole room would 
have been strewed in utter confusion. At the same 
time, there fell, at intervals, more lime; but the knock- 
ings were discontinued. Then the friends called up the 
two coachmen and Halm's servant, besides young 


Knittel, the watchmfin of the castle, and others; all of 
whom were witnesses of these disturbances/' 

This continued for several nights; but all was usually 
quiet by morning, — sometimes by one o'clock at night. 
Ilahn continues : — 

"From the table, under their ver}^ eyes, snuffers and 
knives would occasionally rise, remain some time in the 
air, and then fall to the floor. In this way a large pair 
of scissors belonging to Hahn fell between him and one 
of the coachmen, and remained sticking in the floor. 

''For a few nights it intermitted, then recommenced 
as before. After it had continued about three weeks, 
(during all which time Hahn persisted in remaining in 
the same apartment,) tired out, at length, with the 
noises which continually broke their rest, the two friends 
resolved to have their beds removed into the corner 
room above, so as to obtain, if possible, a quiet night's 
sleep. But the change was unavailing. The same loud 
knockings followed them; and they even remarked that 
articles were flung about the room which they were 
quite certain they had left in the chamber below. 'Let 
them fling as they will,' exclaimed Hahn: 'I must have 
sleep !' Kern, half undressed, paced the room in deep 
thought. Suddenly he stopped before a mirror, into 
which he chanced to look. After gazing upon it for some 
ten minutes, he began to tremble, turned deadly pale, 
and moved away. Hahn, thinking that he had been 
suddenly taken ill from the cold, hastened to him and 
thrcAV a cloak over his shoulders. Then Kern, naturally 
a fearless man, took courage, and related to his friend, 
though still with quivering lips, that he had seen in the 
mirror the appearance of a female figure, in white, look- 
ing at him, and apparently before him, for he could see 
the reflection of himself behind it. It was some time 
before he could persuade himself that he really saw this 
figure; and for that reason he remained so long before 

21 «■ 


the glass. Williiigl}' would he have believed that it was 
a mere trick of his imagination; but as the figure looked 
at him full in the face, and he could perceive its eyes 
move, a shudder passed over him, and he turned away. 
Hahn instantly went to the mirror and called upon the 
image to show itself to him; but, though he remained a 
quarter of an hour before it, and often repeated his in- 
vocation, he saw nothing. Kern told him that the figure 
exhibited old but not disagreeable features, very pale 
but tranquil-looking; and that its head was covered with 
white drapery, so that the face only appeared. . . . 

"By this time a month had passed; the story of these 
disturbances had spread over the neighborhood, and had 
been received by many with incredulity; among the rest, 
by two Bavarian officers of dragoons, named Cornet and 
Magerle. The latter proffered to remain alone in the 
room; so the others left him there about twilight. But 
they had been but a short time in the opposite room, 
wdien they heard Magerle swearing loudly, and also 
sounds as of saber-blows on tables and chairs. So, for 
the sake of the furniture at least, they judged it prudent 
to look in upon Magerle. When they asked him what 
was the matter, he replied, in a fury, 'As soon as you 
left, the cursed thing began pelting me w^ith lime and 
other things. I looked everywhere, but could see no- 
bod}" ; so I got in a rage, and cut with my saber right 
and left.' " . . . 

This was enough for the dragoon-officers. Hahn and 
Kern, meanwhile, had become so much accustomed to 
these marvels that they joked and amused themselves 
with them. At last, — 

"Hahn resolved that he would investigate them se- 
riously. He accordingly, one evening, sat down at his 
writing-table, with two lighted candles before him; being 
so placed that he could observe the whole room, and 
especially all the windows and doors. He was left, for 


a time, entirely alone in the castle, the coachmen being 
in the stables, and Kern having gone out. Yet the very 
same occurrences took place as before; na}', the snuffers, 
under his very eyes, were raised and whirled about. 
He kept the strictest watch on the doors and windows; 
but nothing could be discovered. 

'' Several other persons witnessed these phenomena, at 
various times; a bookseller named Dorfel, and the Head 
Eanger Eadezensky. This last remained with them all 
night. But no rest had he. He was kept awake with 
constant peltings. . . . 

^•Inspector Ivnetch, from Koschentin, resolved to 
spend a night with Hahn and Kern, There was no end 
of the peltings they had during the evening; but finally 
they retired to rest, leaving the candles burning. Then 
all three saw two table-napkins rise to the ceiling in the 
middle of the room, there spread themselves out, and 
finally drop, fluttering, to the floor. A porcelain pipe- 
bowl, belonging to Kern, flew around and broke to 
pieces. Knives and forks flew about; a knife fell on 
Hahn's head, striking him, however, with the handle 
onl^'. Thereupon it was resolved, as these disturbances 
had now continued throughout two months, to move out 
of the room. Kern and Hahn's servant carried a bed 
into the opposite chamber. Xo sooner had they gone, 
than a chalybeate water-bottle that was standing in the 
room moved close to the feet of the two who remained 
behind. A brass candlestick also, that appeared to come 
out of a corner of the room, fell to the ground, before 
them. In the room to which they removed, they spent 
a tolerably quiet night, though they could still hear 
noises in the room they had left. This was the last dis- 

Hahn winds up his narration as follows: — 

''The story remained a mystery. All reflection on 
these strange occurrences, all investigation, though most 


carefully made, to discover natural causes for them, left 
the observers in darkness. No one could suggest any 
possible means of eft'ecting them, even had there been, 
which there was not, in the village or the neighborhood, 
any one capable of sleight of hand. And what motive 
could there be? The old castle was worth nothing, ex- 
cept to its owner. In short, one can perceive no ima- 
ginable purpose in the whole affair. It resulted but in 
the disturbing of some men, and in the frightening 
of others; but the occupants of the room became, during 
the two entire months that the occurrence lasted, as 
much accustomed to them as one can become to any 
daily recurring annoyance."* 

The above narrative is subscribed and attested by 
Hahn as follows : — 

'^I saw and heard every thing, exactly as here set 
down; observing the whole carefully and quietly. I 
experienced no fear whatever; yet I am wholly unable 
to account for the occurrences narrated. 

'^ Written this 19th of Il^ovember, 1808. 

''Councilor Hahn.'* 

Dr. Kerner, in the fourth edition of his " Seherin von 
Prevorst," informs us that the above narrative, when 
first printed by him, called forth various conjectured ex- 
planations of the mystery; the most plausible of which 
was, that Kern, being an adept in sleight of hand, had, 
for his amusement, thus made sport of his comj^anion. 
When the doctor communi.cated this surmise to Hahn, 
the latter replied that, if there were no other cause for 
rejecting such a suspicion, the thing was rendered abso- 
lutely impossible by the fact that some of the manifest- 
ations occurred not only when he, Hahn, was entirely 
alone in the room, but even when Kern was temporarily 
absent on a journey. He adds, that Kern again and 

*- "Die Seherin von Prevorst," 4th ed., Stuttgart, 1846, pp. 495 to 504. 


again urged him to leave the room; but that he, (Hahii,) 
still hoping to discover some natural explanation of these 
events, persisted in remaining. Their chief reason for 
leaving at last was Kern's regret for the destruction of 
his flxvorite pipe, an article of value, which he had bought 
in Berlin, and which he highly prized. He adds, that 
Kern died of a nervous fever, in the autumn of 1807. 

Writing to Dr. Kerner on the subject, from Ingelfingen, 
under date 24th August, 1828, that is, more than twenty 
years after the events occurred, Hahn says, " I omitted 
no possible precautions to detect some natural cause. I 
am usually accused of too great skepticism rather than 
of superstition. Cowardice is not my fault, as those 
who know me intimately will testify. I could rely, 
therefore, on myself; and I can have been under no illu- 
sion as to the facts, for I often asked the spectators, 
^ What did you see?' and each time from their replies I 
learned that they had seen exactly the same as I did 
myself" . . . "lam at this moment entirely at a loss 
to assign any cause, or even any reasonable surmise, in 
explanation of these events. To me, as to all who wit- 
nessed them, they have remained a riddle to this day. 
One must expect hasty judgments to be passed on such 
occurrences; and even in relating Avhat has not only 
been seen by oneself but also by others yet alive, one 
must be satisfied to incur the risk of being regarded as 
the dupe of an illusion."^' 

Dr. Kerner further adds, that, in the year 1830, a gen- 
tleman of the utmost respectability, residing in Stuttgart, 
visited Slawensik for the purpose of verifying the above 
narrative. He there found persons who ridiculed the 
v/hole as a deceit; but the only two men he met with, 
survivors of those who had actually witnessed the 
events, confirmed to him the accuracy of Hahn's narra- 
tive in every particular. 

* "Selierin von Prevorsty" pp. 506, SOT'. 


This gentleman further ascertained that the Castlo 
of Slawensik had been since destroyed, and that, in 
clearingaway the ruins, there was found a male skeleton 
walled in and without coffin, with the skull split open. 
By the side of this skeleton lay a sword. 

This being communicated to Ilahn, he replies, very 
rationally', ^- One may imagine some connection between 
the discovered skeleton, the female image seen by Kern, 
and the disturbances we witnessed j but who can really 
know any tiling about it?" And he adds, finally, — 

"It matters nothing to me whether others believe my 
narrative or not. I recollect very well what I myself 
thought of such things before I had actually witnessed 
them, and I take it ill of nobody that he should pass 
upon them the same judgment which I would have 
passed peevious to experience. A hundred witnesses 
will work no conviction in those who have made up 
their minds never to believe in any thing of the kind. 
I give myself no trouble about such persons; for it would 
be labor lost." 

Tills last letter of Hahn's is dated May, 1831. During 
a quarter of a century, therefore, he retained, and re- 
iterated, his conviction of the reality and unexplained 
character of the disturbances at Slawensik. 

From the same source whence the above is derived, I 
select another example, of a later date, and which has 
the advantage of having been witnessed by Kerner 


Disturbances in the village of Obersten/eld, 


Amid the mountains of l^orthern Wurtemberg, in the 
village of Prevorst, there was born, in the year 1801, 
Madame Fredericke Hauife, since well known to the 


world through Dr. Kerner's history of her life and 
sufferings, as the " Secress of Prevorst."* 

Even as a child Madame Hauffe was in the habit of 
seeing what she believed to be disembodied spirits, not 
usually perceptible, however, by those around her; and 
this peculiarity, whether actual faculty or mere halluci- 
nation, accompanied her through life. 

Kerner gives many examples. Throughout the year 
1825, while residing in the village of Oberstenfeld, not 
far from Lowenstein, in the northern portion of the 
kingdom of Wurtemberg, Madame Hauffe was visited, 
or believed herself to be so, by the appearance, usually 
in the evening, about seven o'clock, of a male figure of 
dark complexion, which, she alleged, constantly begged 
for her prayers. With the question of the reality of 
this appearance I have here nothing to do ; but I invite 
attention to the attendant circumstances. Kerner 

" Each time before he appeared, his coming was an- 
nounced to all present, without exception, by the sound 
of knockings or rappings, sometimes on one wall, some- 
times on another, sometimes by a sort of clapping in 

* '^Die Scherin von Prevorst, EroflFnungen liber das innere Leben des 
Menschen, und iiber das Hereinragen einer Geisterwelt in die unsere." By 
Oustinus Kerner, 4th ed., Stuttgart and Tubingen, 1846, 8vo, pp. 559. 

This work, of which there is an English translation by Mrs. Crowe, at- 
tracted much attention and criticism at the time of its first appearance, and 
since. It was reviewed in the " Revue des Deux Mondes" of July 15, 1812, 
and there spoken of as "one of the most strange and most conscientiously 
elaborated works that has ever appeared on such a subject." Of Dr. Kerner 
himself the reviewer speaks as one of the ornaments of Germany. 

Another Review, of February, 1816, notices in terms equally favorable 
the work and its author. It accords to Kerner a high reputation in his 
own country, not only as physician, but for his literary talents, and as a man 
of learning and of piety, — a man whose sincerity and good faith cannot be 
doubted even by the most skeptical. The reviewer further declares that the 
book itself contains many truths which will have to be admitted into our 
system of physiology and psychology. 


the air, and other sounds, in the middle of the room. 
Of this there are still living more than twenty unim- 
peachable witnesses. 

''By day and by night were heard the sounds of some 
une going up-stairs; but, seek as we would, it was im- 
possible to discover any one. In the cellar the same 
knockings were heard, and they increased in loudness. 
If the knocking was heard behind a barrel, and if any 
one ran hastily to look behind it and detect the cause, 
the knockings immediately changed to the front of the 
barrel; and when one returned to the front they were 
again heard behind. The same thing occurred when it 
knocked on the walls of the room. If the knockings 
were heard outside, and one ran suddenly out to the 
spot, it immediately knocked inside; and vice versa. 

'' If the kitchen door was fastened at night ever so 
securely, even tied with twine, it stood open in the 
morning. It was constantly heard to open and shut; 
yet, though one might rush to it instantly, no one could 
be seen to enter or depart. 

" Once, at about eleven o'clock at night, the disturb- 
ance was so violent that it shook the whole house ; and 
the heavy beams and rafters moved back and forth. 
Madame Hauffe's father, on this occasion, had nearly 
decided to abandon the house the next day." . . . 

" The poundings and cracking of the house were heard 
by passers-by in the street. At other times the knock- 
ings in the cellar had been such that all those who were 
passing stoj^ped to listen. 

" Glasses were often removed from the table, (and, on 
one occasion, the bottle,) as if by an invisible hand, and 
placed on the floor. So also the paper was taken from 
her father's writing-table, and thrown at him. 

'']\Iadame Ilauffe visited Lowenstein; and there also 
the knockings and rappings were heard." 

The last of the alleged visits of this spirit was on the 


6th of January, 1826. The above occurrences had been 
repeated, at intervals, throughout an entire year. 

There are various other examples of a similar charac- 
ter scattered over Kerner's book; but it is useless to 
multi]:)^ them. 

As we approach our own time, the records of sueli 
disturbances as we are here examining so increase in 
number that space fails me to reproduce them. I select 
the following as a sample, because the evidence adduced 
in proof that the phenomena were real, and that no mun- 
dane agency capable of producing them was ever dis- 
covered, is of a character such as daily decides questions 
touching men's property and lives. 


Disturbances in a dwelling-house near Edinburgh, 


This case is remarkable as having given rise to legal 
proceedings on the part of the owner of the house re- 
puted to be haunted. It is related by Mrs. Crowe in 
her " Night Side of Nature ;" and the particulars were 
communicated to her by the gentleman who conducted 
the suit for the plaintiif.* She does not give his name; 
but from an Edinburgh friend I have ascertained that 
it was Mr. Maurice Lothian, a Scottish solicitor, now 
Procurator Fiscal of the county of Edinburgh. 

A certain Captain Molesworth rented the house in 
question, situated at Trinity, two miles from Edinburgh, 
from a Mr. Webster, in May, 1835. After two months' 
residence there, the captain began to complain of certain 
unaccountable noises, which, strangely enough, he took 
it into his head were made by his landlord, Mr. Webster, 
who occupied the adjoining dwelling. The latter 
naturally represented that it was not probable he 
should desire to damage the reputation of his own 

* "Night Side of Nature," Routledge and Co.'s edition, pp. 4i5 to 447. 



house, or drive a responsible tenant out of it; and re- 
torted the accusation. Meanwhile the disturbances 
qontinued daily and nightly. Sometimes there was the 
sound as of invisible feet; sometimes there were knock- 
ings, scratchings, or rustlings, first on one side, then on 
the other. Occasionally the unseen agent seemed to 
be rapping to a certain tune, and would answer, by so 
many knocks, any question to which the reply Avas in 
numbers; as, "How many persons are there in this 
room?'' So forcible at times were the poundings that 
the wall trembled visibly. Beds, too, w^ere occasionally 
heaved up, as by some person underneath. Yet, search 
as they would, no one could be found. Captain Moles- 
worth caused the boards to be lifted in the rooms where 
the noises were loudest and most frequent, and actually 
perforated the wall that divided his residence from that 
of Mr. AYebster; but without the least result. Sheriff's 
officers, masons, justices of the peace, and the officers 
of the regiment quartered at Leith, who were friends 
of Captain Molesworth, came to his aid, in hopes of de- 
tecting or frightening away his tormentor ; but in vain. 
Suspecting that it might be some one outside the house, 
they formed a cordon round it; but all to no purpose. 
'No solution of the mystery was ever obtained. 

Suit was brought before the Sheriff of Edinburgh, by 
Mr. Webster, against Captain Molesworth, for damages 
committed by lifting the boards, boring the walls, and 
firing at the wainscot, as well as for injury done in 
giving the house the reputation of being haunted, thus 
preventing other tenants from renting it. On the trial, 
the facts above stated w^ere all elicited by Mr. Lothian, 
who spent several hours in examining numerous wit- 
nesses, some of them officers of the army and gentle- 
men of undoubted honor and capacity for observation. 

It remains to be stated that Captain Molesworth had 
had two daughters ; one of whom, named Matilda, had 


lately died, while the other, a girl between twelve and 
thirteen, naDied Jane, was sickly and usually kept her 
bed. It being observed that wherever the sick girl was, the 
noises more frequently prevailed, Mr. Webster declared 
that she made them; and it would seem that her father 
himself must, to some extent, have shared the sus- 
picion ; for the poor girl was actually tied up in a bag, 
so as to prevent all possible agency on her part. No 
cessation or diminution of the disturbance was, how- 
ever, obtained by this harsh expedient. 

The people in the neighborhood believed that the 
noises were produced by the ghost of Matilda warning 
her sister that she was soon to follow; and this popular 
belief received confirmation when that unfortunate 
young lady, whose illness may have been aggravated by 
the severe measures dictated by unjust suspicion, shortly 
after died. 

Occasionally such narratives are published as mere 
specimens of a vulgar superstition, as by Mackay, in his 
work on " Popular Delusions." He notices, as one of 
the latest examples of the panic occasioned by a house 
supposed to be haunted, incidents that took place — • 
like those just narrated — in Scotland, and that occurred 
some twenty years ago, regarding which he supplies 
the following particulars. 


Disturbances in Aberdeenshire, Scotland^ 


" On the 5th of December, 1838, the inmates of the 
farm-house of Baldarroch, in the district of Banchory, 
Aberdeenshire, were alarmed by observing a great num- 
ber of sticks, pebble-stones, and clods of earth flying 
about their yard and premises. They endeavored, but 
in vain, to discover who was the delinquent, and, the 


shower of stones continuing for five days in succession, 
they eanic at last to the conclusion that the devil and 
his imps were alone the cause of it. The rumor soon 
spread all over that part of the country, and hundreds 
of persons came from fer and near to witness the antics 
of the devils of Baldarroch. After the fifth day, the 
showers of clods and stones ceased on the outside of the 
premises, and the scene shifted to the interior. Spoons, 
knives, plates, mustard-pots, rolling-pins, and flat-irons 
appeared suddenly endued with the 2:>ower of self-mo- 
tion, and were whirled from room to room, and rattled 
down the chimneys, in a manner nobody could account 
for. The lid of a mustard-pot was put into a cupboard 
by a servant-girl, in the presence of scores of people, 
and in a few minutes afterward came bouncing down 
the chimney, to the consternation of everybody. There 
was also a tremendous knocking at the doors and on the 
roof, and pieces of stick and pebble-stones rattled against 
the windows and broke them. The whole neighborhood 
was a scene of alarm ; and not only the vulgar, but per- 
sons of education, respectable farmers within a circle of 
twenty miles, expressed their belief in the supernatural 
character of these events." 

The excitement, Mackay goes on to state, spread, 
within a week, over the parishes of Banchory-Ternan, 
Brumoak, Durris, Kincardine O'Neil, and all the adja- 
cent district of Mearns and Aberdeenshire. It was 
affirmed and believed that all horses and dogs that ap- 
proached the farm-house were immediately affected. The 
mistress of the house and the servant-girls said that 
whenever they went to bed they were pelted with peb- 
bles and other missiles. The farmer himself traveled a 
distance of forty miles to an old conjurer, named Willie 
Foreman, to induce him, for a handsome fee, to remove 
the enchantment from his property. The heritor, the 
minister, and all the elders of the kirk instituted an in- 


vestigation, which, however, does not appear to have 
liad any result. * 

^^ After a fortnight's continuance of the noises," says 
Mackay, " the whole trick was discovered. The two 
servant-lasses were strictly examined, and then com- 
mitted to prison. It appeared that they were alone at 
the bottom of the whole affair, and that the extraordinary 
alarm and credulity of their master and mistress in the 
first instance, and of the neighbors and country-people 
afterwards, made their task comparatively easy. A little 
common dexterity was all they had used; and, being 
themselves unsuspected, they swelled the alarm by the 
wonderful stories they invented. It was they who 
loosened the bricks in the chimneys and placed the 
dishes in such a manner on the shelves that they fell on 
the slightest motion."* 

The proof that the girls were the authors of all the 
mischief appears to have rested on the fad that '^ no 
sooner were they secured in the county gaol than the 
noises ceased;" and thus, says Mackay, "most people 
were convinced that human agency alone had worked 
all the wonder." Others, however, he admits, still held 
out in their first belief, and were entirely dissatisfied 
with the explanation, as indeed they very well might be, 
if we are to trust to the details given by Mackay himself 
of these disturbances. 

For five days a shower of sticks, stones, and clods of 
earth are seen flying about the yard and are thrown 
against the windows.f Hundreds of persons come to 

*■ "Pojmlar Delusions," vol. ii. pp. 133 to 136. 

f This phenomenon, strange as it seems, is exactly paralleled in a recent 
case recorded in the " Gazette des Tribunaux" and noticed by De Mirville 
in his work " Des Esjjrits," pp. 3S1 to 384. It occurred in Paris, in the 
populous quarter of Montagne-Sainte-Genevieve. A house on the street des 
Gres was pelted, for twenty -on n nights in succession, by a shower of heavy 
missiles, driven against it in such quantities, and with such violence, that 
R 22* 


witness the phenomenon, and none of them can account 
for it. Is it credible, is it conceivable, that two girls, 
employed all day in menial duties under the eye of their 
mistress, should, by "a little common dexterity,'' have 
continued such a practical joke for iive ho^irs — to say 
nothing of five days — without being inevitably detected? 
Then various utensils in the house not only move, as if 
self-impelled, about the room, but are whirled from one 
room to another, or dropped down the chimney, in pre- 
sence of crowds of witnesses. There is a tremendous 
knocking at the doors and on the roof, and the windows 
are broken by sticks and pebble-stones that rattle 
against them. This farce is kept up for ten days more, 
making the whole neighborhood a scene of alarm, baf- 
fling the ingenuity of heritor, minister, and elders; and 
we are asked to believe that it was all a mere prank of 
two servant-girls, effected by loosening a few bricks in 
the chimney and placing the crockery so that it fell on 
slight motion ! A notable specimen, surely, of the cre- 
dulousness of incredulity ! 

One can understand that a court of justice should ad- 

the front of the house was actually pierced in some places, the doors and 
•windows were shattered to atoms, and the whole exhibited the appearance of 
abuilding that had stood a siege against stones from catapults or discharges 
of grape-shot. The " Gazette" saj's, " Whence come these projectiles, 
which are pieces of pavement, fragments of old houses, entire blocks of 
building-stone, which, from their weight and from the distance whence they 
came, could not have been hurled by the baud of man ? Up to this day it 
has been impossible to discover the cause." Yet the police, headed by the 
Chief of Police himself, was out every night, and placed a guard on the 
premises night and day. They cmploA-ed, also, fierce dogs as guards; but 
all in vain. 

De Mirville some time afterward called personally on the proprietor of 
the house, and on the Commissary of Police of that quarter. Both assured 
him in the most positive terms that, notwithstanding the constant pre- 
cautions taken by a body of men unmatched for vigilance and sagacity, 
not the slightest clew to the mystery had ever been obtained, (pp. .384 
to 386.) 


mit, as presumptive proof against the girls, the fact that 
from the time they were lodged in jail the disturbances 
ceased. With the lights before them, the presumption was 
not unreasonable. But I have already adduced some proof, 
and shall hereafter add more,* that such disturbances 
appear to attach to individuals (or, in other words, to 
occur in certain localities in their presence) without 
any agency — at least, any conscious agency — on the part 
of those persons themselves. 

Other narratives of this class, already in print, might 
here be introduced, did space permit. I instance one or 

In ^^ Douglas Jerrold's Journal" of March 26, 1847, is 
the narrative of disturbances in the family of a Mr. 
Williams, residing in Moscow Eoad. Utensils and furni- 
ture were moved about and destroyed, almost exactly 
as in the case of Mrs. Golding and her maid. There is 
no record, however, of any knockings on the walls or 

A similar case is detailed in the ^^ Revue Fran- 
gaise' for December, 1846, as having occurred in the 
house of a farmer at Clairefontaine, near Eam- 

A narrative more remarkable and detailed than 
either of these will be found in Spicer's ''Facts and 
Fantasies," as furnished in manuscript to the author 
by Mrs. E., a lady of fortune, — the disturbances run- 
ning through four years, namely, from August, 1844, to 
September, 1848. Here there were knockings and 
trampings so loud as to shake the whole house, besides 

* Of sueli examples, one of the most remarkable is that of the so-called 
" Electric Girl," examined by Arago. I had carefully prepared a narrative 
of this case from the original authorities, intending to introduce it here; but, 
finding this volume swelling beyond the dimensions to which I had resolved 
to restrict it, I threw the story out, and may publish it in a future work. 


openings of doors and windows, ringing of bells, noises 
as of moving of furniture, the rustling, in the very 
room, of a silk dress, the shaking of the beds in Avhich 
they lay, the sound of carriages driving in the park 
when none were there, &c. This narrative is sup- 
ported by the certificates of servants and of a police 
constable, who was summoned to remain at night on 
the premises and to seek to discover the cause of these 
annoyances. Some of the servants left the family, 
unable to endure the terror and loss of sleep. Mr. E. 
himself, after struggling for years against it, finally left 

the estate of L , where the disturbances took place, 

with the intention never to return to it.* 

These may be referred to by the curious. The fol- 
lowing narrative, however, is so remarkable in itself, 
and comes to me directly from a source so unquestion- 
able, that it would be doing injustice to the subject to 
omit or abridge it. 


Disturbances in a Chapel in the Island of Oesel{\ 


In the immediate vicinit}^ of Ahrensburg, the only 
town in the island of Oesel, is the public cemetery. 
Tastefully laid out and carefully kept, planted with 
trees and partly surrounded by a grove dotted with 
evergreens, it is a favorite promenade of the inhabit- 
ants. Besides its tombs, — in every variety, from the 
humblest to the most efaborate, — it contains several 
private chapels, each the burying-place of some family 
of distinction. Underneath each of these is a vault, 

* ''Facts and Fantasies;" a sequel to " Sights and Sounds, the Mystery 
of the Day;" by Henry Spicer, Esq., London, 1858, jip. 76 to 101. 

-f The island of Oesel, in the Baltic, is possessed by Russia, having 
been ceded to that Power, by the Treaty of Nystadt, in 1721. It constitutes 
part of Livonia. 


paved ^Yith wood, to which the descent is by a stairway 
from inside the chapel and closed by a door. The 
coffins of the members of the fjimily more recently de- 
ceased usually remain for a time in the chapel. They 
are afterward transferred to the vaults, and there 
placed side by side, elevated on iron bars. These 
coffins it is the custom to make of massive oak, very 
heavy and strongly put together. 

The public highway passes in front of the cemetery 
and at a short distance therefrom. Conspicuous, and to 
be seen by the traveler as he rides by, are three chapels, 
facing the highway. Of these the most spacious, 
adorned with pillars in front, is that belonging to the 
family of Euxhoewden, of patrician descent, and ori- 
ginally from the city of Bremen. It has been their 
place of interment for several generations. 

It was the habit of the country-people, coming in on 
horseback or with carts on a visit to the cemetery, to 
fasten their horses, usually with very stout halters, im- 
mediately in front of this chapel, and close to the pillars 
that adorned it. This practice continued, notwith- 
standing that, for some eight or ten years jDrevious to 
the incidents about to be narrated, there had been from 
time to time vague rumors of a mysterious kind con- 
nected with the chapel in question as being haunted, — 
rumors which, however, as they could not be traced to 
any reliable source, were little credited and were 
treated by its owners with derision. 

The chief season of resort to the cemetery by per- 
sons from all parts of the island whose relatives lay 
buried there was on Pentecost Sunday and the succeed- 
ing diijs, — these being there observed much in the same 
manner as in most Catholic countries All-Souls Day 
usually is.''^ 

* The religion of the island is the Protestant; though of late years at- 
tempts have been made to procure converts to the Greek Church. 


On the second day of Pentecost, Monday, the 22d 
of June, (New Stj'le,) in the year 1844, the wife of a 
certain tailor named Dalmann, living in Ahrensburg, had 
come with a horse and small cart to visit, with her chil- 
dren, the tomb of her mother, situated behind the Bux- 
hoewden family chapel, and had fastened her horse, as 
usual, in front of it, without unharnessing him, pro- 
230sing, as soon as she had completed her devotions, to 
visit a friend in the country. 

While kneeling in silent prayer by the grave, she had 
an indistinct perception, as she afterward remembered, 
that she heard some noises in the direction of the 
chapel; but, absorbed in other thoughts, she paid at the 
time no attention to it. Her prayers completed, and 
returning to prosecute her journey, she found her 
horse — usually a quiet animal — in an inexplicable state 
of excitement. Covered with sweat and foam, its limbs 
trembling, it appeared to be in mortal terror. When 
she led it off, it seemed scarcely able to walk; and, in- 
stead of proceeding on her intended excursion, she found 
herself obliged to return to town and to call a veterinary 
surgeon. lie declared that the horse must have been 
excessively terrified from some cause or other, bled it, 
administered a remedy, and the animal recovered. 

A day or two afterward, this woman, coming to the 
chateau of one of the oldest noble families of Livonia, 
the Barons de Guldenstubbe, near Ahrensburg, as was 
her wont, to do needle-work for the family, related to the 
baron the strange incident which had occurred to her. 
He treated it lightly, imagining that the woman exag- 
gerated, and that her horse might have been accidentally 

The circumstance would have been soon forgotten 
had it not been followed by others of a similar cha- 
racter. The following Sunday several persons, who 
had attached their horses in front of the same 


chapel, reported that they found them covered with 
sweat, trembling, and in the utmost terror; and some 
among them added that they had themselves heard, 
seeming to proceed from the vaults of the chapel, 
rumbling sounds, which occasionally (but this might 
have been the eficct of imagination) assumed the cha- 
racter of groans. 

And this was but the prelude to further disturbances, 
gradually increasing in frequency. One day in the 
course of the next month (July) it happened that 
eleven horses were fastened close to the columns of the 
chapel. Some persons, passing near by, and hearing, as 
they alleged, loud noises,* as if issuing from beneath the 
building, raised the alarm; and when the owners reached 
the spot they found the poor animals in a pitiable con- 
dition. Several of them, in their frantic efforts to 
escape, had thrown themselves on the ground, and lay 
struggling there; others were scarcely able to walk or 
stand; and all were violently affected, so that it became 
necessary immediately to resort to bleeding and other 
means of relief. In the case of three or four of them 
these means proved unavailing. They died within a 
day or tw^o. 

This was serious. And it was the cause of a formal 
complaint being made by some of the sufferers to the 
Consistory, — a court holding its sittings at Ahrensburg 
and having charge of ecclesiastical affairs. 

About the same time, a member of the Buxhoewden 
family died. At his funeral, during the reading in the 
chapel of the service for the dead, what seemed groans 
and other strange noises were heard from beneath, to 

* Gciose was the German word employed by the narrator in ppoaking to 
me of these sounds. It is the term often used to designate the rolling of 
distant thunder. Schiller says, in his " Tancher," — 

" Und wie mit des fernen Donner's Getose — " 


the great terror of some of the assistants, the servants 
especially. The horses attached to the hearse and to 
the mourning-coaches were sensibly affected, but not so 
violently as some of the others had been. After the 
interment, three or four of those who had been present, 
bolder than their neighbors, descended to the vault. 
While there they heard nothing; but they found, to 
their infinite surprise, that, of the numerous coffins 
which had been deposited there in due order side by 
side, almost all had been displaced and lay in a con- 
fused pile. They sought in vain for any cause that 
might account for this. The doors were always kept 
carefuU}^ fastened, and the locks showed no signs of 
having been tampered with. The coffins were rej^laced 
in due order. 

This incident caused much talk, and, of course, at- 
tracted additional attention to the chapel and the al- 
leged disturbances. Children were left to watch the 
horses when any were fastened in its vicinity; but 
they were usually too much frightened to remain; and 
some of them even alleged that they had seen some 
dark-looking specters hovering in the vicinity. The 
stories, however, related by them on this latter head 
were set down — reasonably enough, perhaps — to ac- 
count of their excited fears. But parents began to 
scruple about taking their children to the cemetery 
at all. 

The excitement incr-easing, renewed complaints on 
the subject reached the Consistory, and an inquiry into 
the matter was proposed. The owners of the chapel at 
first objected to this, treating the matter as a trick or a 
scandal set on foot by their enemies. But though they 
carefully examined the floor of the vault, to make sure 
that no one had entered from beneath, they could find 
nothing to confirm their suspicions. And, the Baron de 
Guldenstubbe, who was president of the Consistory, 


having visited the vaults privatelj^ in company with two 
members of the family, and having found the coffins 
again in the same disorder, they finally, after restoring 
the coffins to their places, assented to an official investi- 
gation of the affair. 

The persons charged with this investigation were the 
Baron de Guldenstubbe, as pi^sident, and the bishop 
of the province, as vice-president, of the Consistory; 
two other members of the same body; a physician, 
named Luce; and, on the part of the magistracy of the 
town, the burgomeister, named Schmidt, one of the 
syndics, and a secretary. 

They proceeded, in a body, to institute a careful exa- 
mination of the vault. All the coffins there de- 
posited, with the exception of three, were found this 
time, as before, displaced. Of the three coffins forming 
the exception, one contained the remains of a grand- 
mother of the then representative of the family, who 
had died about five years previous; and the two 
others w^ere of young children. The grandmother 
had been, in life, revered almost as a saint, for her 
great piety and constant deeds of charity and benevo- 

The first suggestion which presented itself, on dis- 
covering this state of things, was that robbers might 
have broken in for the sake of plunder. The vault of 
an adjoining chapel had been forcibly entered some 
time before, and the rich velvet and gold fringe which 
adorned the coffins had been cut oif and stolen. But 
the most careful examination failed to furnish any 
grounds for such a supposition in the present case. 
The ornaments of the coffins were found untouched. 
The commission caused several to be opened, in order 
to ascertain whether the rings or other articles of 
jewelry which it was customary to bury with the 
corpses, and some of which were of considerable value, 



had been taken. No indication of this kind, how- 
ever, appeared. One or two of the bodies had mold- 
ered almost to dust; but the trinkets known to have 
formed j^art of the funeral apparel still lay there, at the 
bottom of the coffins. 

It next occurred, as a possibility, to the commission, 
that some enemies of the Buxhoewden family, wealthy, 
perhaps, and determined to bring u^^on them annoyance 
and reproach, might have caused to be excavated a sub- 
terranean passage, its entrance at a distance and con- 
cealed so as to avoid observation, and the passage itself 
j)assing under the foundations of the building and open- 
ing into the vault. This might furnish sufficient expla- 
nation of the disarray of the coffins and of the noises 
heard from without. 

To determine the point, they procured workmen, who 
took up the pavement of the vault and carefully exa- 
mined the foundations of the chapel; but without any 
result. The most careful scrutiny detected no secret 

Nothing remained but to replace every thing in due 
order, taking exact note of the position of the coffins, 
and to adopt especial precautions for the detection 
of any future intrusion. This, accordingly, was done. 
Both doors, the inner and the outer, after being carefully 
locked, were doubly sealed; first with the official seal of 
the Consistory, then with that bearing the arms of the 
city. Fine wood-ashes were strewed all over the wooden 
pavement of the vault, the stairs leading down to it from 
the cha2:)el, and the floor of the chapel itself Finally, 
guards, selected from the garrison of the town and re- 
lieved at short intervals, were set for three days and 
nights to watch the building and prevent any one from 
approaching it. 

At the end of that time the commission of inquirj^re- 
turned to ascertain the result. Both doors were found 


securely locked and the seals inviolate. They entered 
The coating of ashes still presented a smooth, unbroken 
surface. Neither in the chapel nor on the stairway 
leading to the vault was there the trace of a footstep, of 
man or animal. The vault was sufficiently lighted from 
the chapel to make every object distinctly visible. They 
descended. \Yith beating hearts, they gazed on the 
spectacle before them. Not only was every coffin, with 
the same three exceptions as before, displaced, and the 
whole scattered in confusion over the place, but many 
of them, weighty as they were, had been set on end, so 
that the head of the corpse was downward. Nor was 
even this all. The lid of one coffin had been partially 
forced open, and there projected the shriveled right arm 
of the corpse it contained, showing beyond the elbow 3 
the lower arm being turned up toward the ceiling of the 

The first shock over which this astounding sight pro- 
duced, the commission proceeded carefully to take note, 
in detail, of the condition of things as they found them. 

No trace of human footstep was discovered in the 
vault, any more than on the stairs or in the chapel. 
Nor was there detected the slightest indication of any 
felonious violation. A second search verified the fact 
that neither the external ornaments of the coffins nor 
the articles of jewelry with which some of the corpses 
had been decorated were abstracted. Every thing was 
disarranged; nothing was taken. 

They approached, with some trepidation, the coffin 
from one side of which the arm projected; and, wuth a 
shudder, they recognized it as that in wdiich had been 
placed the remains of a member of the Buxhoewden 
family who had committed suicide. The matter had 
been hushed up at the time, through the influence of the 
family, and the self-destroyer had been buried with the 
usual ceremonies; but the fact transpired, and was 


known all over the island, that he was found wdtli bis 
throat cut and the bloody razor still grasped in his right 
hand, — the same hand that was now thrust forth to 
human view from under the coffin-lid; a ghastly memo- 
rial, it seemed, of the rash deed which had ushered the 
unhappy man, uncalled, into another world ! 

An official report setting forth the state of the vault 
and of the chapel at the time wdien the commission set 
seals upon the doors, verifying the fact that the seals 
W' ere afterward found unbroken and the coating of ashes 
intact, and, finally, detailing the condition of things as 
they appeared when the commission revisited the chapel 
at the end of the three days, was made out by the Baron 
de Guldenstubbe, as president, and signed by himself, by 
the bishop, the burgomeister, the physician, and the 
other members of the commission, as w^itnesses. This 
document, placed on record wHth the other proceedings 
of the Consistory, is to be found among its archives, and 
may be examined by any travelers, respectably recom- 
mended, on application to its secretary. 

Never having visited the island of Oesel, I had not an 
opportunity of personally inspecting this paper. But 
the facts above narrated were detailed to me by Made- 
moiselle de Guldenstubbe,* daughter of the baron, who 
was residing in her father's house at the time and was 
cognizant of each minute particular. They were con- 
firmed to me, also, on the same occasion, by her bro- 
ther, the present baron. _ 

This lady informed me that the circumstances pro- 
duced so great an excitement throughout the whole 
island, that there could not have been found, among its 
fifty thousand inhabitants, a cottage inmate to whom 
they were not familiar. She added that the effect upon 
the physician, M. Luce, a w^itness of these marvels, was 

« At Paris, on the 8th of May, 1859. 


such as to produce a radical change in his creed. An 
able man^ distinguished in his profession, familiar, too, 
with the sciences of botany, mineralog}^, and geology, 
and the author of several works of repute on these sub- 
jects, he had imbibed the materialistic doctrines that 
were prevalent, especially amongscientific men, through- 
out continental Europe, in his college days; and these 
he retained until the hour when, in the Buxhoewden 
vault, he became convinced that there are ultramundane 
as well as earthly powers, and that this is not our final 
state of existence. 

It remains to be stated that, as the disturbances 
continued for several months after this investigation, 
the family, in order to get rid of the annoyance, resolved 
to try the effect of burying the coffins. This they did, 
covering them up, to a considerable depth, with earth. 
The expedient succeeded. From that time forth no 
noises were heard to proceed from the chapel; horses 
could be fastened with impunity before it; and the in- 
habitants, recovering from their alarm, frequented with 
their children, as usual, their favorite resort. Nothing 
remained but the memory of the past occurrences, — to 
fade away as the present generation dies out, and per- 
haps to be regarded by the next as an idle legend of the 

To us, meanwhile, it is more than a legend. Fifteen 
years only have elapsed since the date of its occurrence. 
"VYe have the testimony of Hving witnesses to its 

The salient points in the narrative are, first, the ex- 
treme terror of the animals, ending, in two or three 
cases, in death; and, secondly, the official character of 
the investigation, and the minute precautions taken b}' 
the commission of inquiry to prevent or detect decep- 



The evidence resulting from the first point is of the 
strongest kind. In such a case it is impossible that 
animals should simulate; equally impossible that they 
should be acted upon by imagination. Their terror was 
real, and had a real and adequate cause. But can the 
cause be considered adequate if we set down these noises 
as of an ordinary character? A common sound, much 
louder and more startling than we can suppose those 
from the chapel to have been, — thunder, for instance, 
when at no great distance, — often frightens horses, but 
never, so far as I know or have heard, to such a degree 
as to produce death. 

To say nothing of the well-known case recorded in 
Scripture,* various examples more or less analogous to 
the above will be found throughout this volume. 

As to the additional proof supplied by the result of 
the official inquiry, it is difficult, under any supposition, 
to explain it away. The only hypothesis, short of ultra- 
mundane interference, that seems left to us is that which 
occurred to the commission, — namely, the possibility of 
an underground passage. But, even if we consent to 
believe that these gentlemen, after the suggestion oc- 
curred to them and they had sent for workmen expressly 
to resolve their doubts, could yet suffer the work to be 
BO carelessly done that the secret entrance escaped them 
at last, another difficulty remains. The vault had a 
wooden pavement. A portion of this, indeed, could be 
easily raised by a person desiring to effect an entrance. 
But, after a coat of ashes had been strewn over it, how 
could any one, working from beneath, replace it so as 
to leave on the surface of the ashes no trace of the ope- 
ration ? 

Finally, if these disturbances are to be ascribed to 
trickery, why should the tricksters have discontinued 

*'" Numbers xxii. 23. 


their persecution as soon as the coffins were put under 

This last difficulty, however, exists equally in case we 
adopt the spiritual hypothesis. If to interference from 
another world these phenomena were due, why should 
that interference have ceased from the moment the 
coffins were buried? 

And for what object, it may on the same supposition 
be further asked, such interference at all ? It appears 
to have effected the conversion from materialism of the 
attendant physician, — possibly of others; but is that 
sufficient reply ? 

By many it will be deemed insufficient. But, even if 
it be, our ignorance of Divine motive cannot invalidate 
facts. We are not in the habit of denying such phe- 
nomena as an eruption of Vesuvius, or a devastating 
earthquake, on account of our inability to comprehend 
why Providence ordains them. 

It remains at last, therefore, a simple question of fact. 
Having stated the circumstances exactl}^ as I had them 
from a source which I know to be reliable, and having 
added the suggestions to which in my mind they give 
rise, it rests with the reader to assign to each the weight 
which he may think it merits. 

All these occurrences, it will be observed, date pre- 
vious to the spring of March, 1848, when the first dis- 
turbances, the origin of Spiritualism in the United States, 
took place in the Fox family, and cannot, therefore, by 
possibility be imagined to have resulted from that move- 
ment. The same may be said of other European nar- 
ratives of a somewhat later date ; for it was not until 
the commencement of the year 1852 that the excitement 
which gradually followed the Eochester knockings at- 
tained such an extension as to cause the phenomena of 


rapping and table-turning to be known and talked of in 

From the latter 1 select one, the circumstances con- 
nected with w^hich gave rise, as in a previous example, 
to legal proceedings ; and I restrict myself to the evi- 
dence given under oath in the course of trial. We 
can scarcely obtain stronger testimony for any past 
occurrence whatever. 


Disturbances in the Department of the Seine, France, 


In the winter of 1850-51, certain disturbances of an 
extraordinary character occurred in the parsonage of 
Cideville, a villaije and commune near the town of 
Yerville, in the Department of Seine-Inferieure, about 
thirty-five miles cast of Havre, and eighty miles north- 
west of Paris. This parsonage w^as occupied by M. 
Tinel, parish priest and curate of Cideville. 

The rise and continuance of these disturbances ap- 
peared to depend on the presence of two children, then 
of the age of twelve and fourteen respectively, sons of 
respectable parents, themselves of amiable dispositions 
and good character, who had been intrusted to the care 
of the curate to be educated for the priesthood, and 
who resided in the parsonage. 

The disturbances commenced, in the presence of these 
children, on the 26th of November, 1850, and continued 
daily, or almost daily, — usually in the room or rooms in 
w^hich the children were, — for upward of two months and 
a half, namely, until the 15th of February, 1851, the 
day on w^hich the children, by order of the Archbishop 
of Paris, were removed from the parsonage. From that 
day all noises and other disturbances ceased.* 

* The children, when taken from M. Tinel, were intrusted to the care 


It SO happened, from certain circumstances preceding 
and attendajit upon these strange phenomena, — chiefly, 
however, it would seem, in consequence of his own idle 
boasts of secret jDOwers and knowledge of the black 
arts, — that a certain shepherd residing in the neighbor- 
ing commune of Anzouville-rEsvenal, named Felix 
Thorel, graduall}^ came to be suspected, by the more 
credulous, of practicing sorcery against the children, 
and thus causing the disturbances at the parsonage 
which had alarmed and excited the neia-hborhood. It 
appears that the curate, Tinel, shared to some extent 
this popular fancy, and expressed the opinion that the 
shepherd was a sorcerer and the author of the annoy- 
ances in question. 

Thereupon Thorel, having lost his place as shepherd 
in consequence of such suspicions, brought suit for defa- 
mation of character against the curate, laying the 
damages at twelve hundred francs. The trial was com- 
menced before the justice of the peace of Yerville on 
the 7th of January, 1851, witnesses heard (to the number 
of eighteen for the prosecution and sixteen for the de- 
fense) on the 28th of January and succeeding days, and 
final judgment rendered omthe 4th of February following. 

In that document, after premising that, " whatever 
might be the cause of the extraordinary facts which 
occurred at the parsonage of Cideville, it is clear, from 
the sum total of the testimony adduced, that the cause 
of these facts still remains unknown;" after premising 
further "that although, on the one part, the defendant, 
(the curate,) according to several witnesses, did declare 
that the prosecutor (the shepherd) had boasted of pro- 
ducing the disturbances at the parsonage of Cideville, 

of M. Fauvel, parish priest of St. Oiien du Breuil, who testifies to their 
good character and conduct. See his letter in De Mirville's pamphlet, 
"Fragment d'lm Ouvrage inidit." It does not appear that the disturbances 
followed them to their new home. 


and did express liis (the defendant's) own suspicions 
that he (the j)rosecutor) was the author of them, yet, 
on the other hand, it is proved by numerous witnesses 
that the said prosecutor had said and done whatever 
](xy in his j^ower to persuade the public that he actually 
had a hand in their perpetration, and particularly by 
his vaunts to the witnesses Cheval, Yareu, Lettellier, 
Foulongue, Le Hernault, and others;" and, further, after 
deciding that, in consequence, " the prosecutor cannot 
maintain a claim for damao-es for alle^-ed defamation of 
which he w^as himself the first author,'^ the magistrate 
gave judgment for the defendant, (the curate,) and con- 
demned the prosecutor (the shepherd) to pay the ex- 
penses of the suit. 

Within ten days after the rendition of this judgment, 
a gentleman who had visited the parsonage during these 
disturbances, had there witnessed many of the more 
extraordinary phenomena, and was himself one of the 
witnesses at the trial, — the Marquis de Mirville, well 
known to the literary world of Paris as the author of a 
recent work on Pneumatology, — collected from the legal 
record all the documents connected with the trial, in- 
cluding the proces-verbal of the testimony; this last being, 
according to the French forms of justice, taken down at 
the time of the deposition, then read over to each wit- 
ness and its accuracy attested by him. 

It is from these official documents, thus collected at 
the time as appendix to a pamphlet on the subject,* that 
I translate the following details of the disturbances in 
question, embodying those phenomena upon which the 
main body of the witnesses agreed, and omitting such 
portions of the testimony as are immaterial or uncor- 

•:;:- « Fragment cl'un Ouvrage inedit," published by Vrayet de Surcy, Paris, 
1852. (The unpublished work here referred to is De Mirville's well known 
volume on Pneumatology.) 


roborated; also sucli as specially refer to the proofs for 
and against the charge of defamation^ and to the alleged 
agency of the shepherd Thorel. 

On Tuesday, the 26th of :N'ovember, 1850, as the 
two children were at work in one of the rooms in the 
upper story of the parsonage, about five o'clock in the 
afternoon, they heard knockings, resembling light blows 
of a hammer, on the wainscoting of the apartment. 
These knockings were continued daily throughout the 
week, at the same hour of the afternoon. 

On the next Sunday, the 1st of December, the blows 
commenced at mid-day ; and it was on that day that the 
curate first thought of addressing them. He said, 
^' Strike louder I" Thereupon the blows were repeated 
more loudly. They continued thus all that day. 

On Monday, December 2, the elder of the two boys 
said to the knockings, '' Beat time to the tune of Maitre 
Corheau; " and they immediately obeyed. 

The next day, Tuesday, December 3, the boy having 
related the above circumstances to M. Tinel, he, (Tinel,) 
being much astonished, resolved to try, and said, 
^'Play us Maitre Corheau;" and the knockings obeyed. 
The afternoon of that day, the knockings became so 
loud and violent that a table in the apartment moved 
somewhat, and the noise was so great that one could 
hardly stay in the room. Later in the same afternoon, 
the table moved from its place three times. The curate's 
sister, after assuring herself that the children had not 
moved it, replaced it; but twice it followed her back 
again. The noises continued, with violence, all that 

On Monday, December 9, there being present Augusta 
Huet, a neighboring proprietor, the curate of Limesy, 
and another gentleman, the younger child being also 

* Testimony of Gustave Lemonier and of Clement Bunel. 


present, but with his arms folded, Huet tapped with 
his finger on the edge of the table, and said, "Strike as 
many blows as there are letters in my name." Four 
blows were immediately struck, at the very spot, under 
his fin O'er. He was convinced it could not be done b}" 
the child, nor by any one in the house. Then he asked 
it to beat time to the air of " Au Clair de la Lune f' and 
it did so.* 

The Ma^'or of Cideville deposes to the fact that, being 
in the parsonage, he saw the tongs leap from the fire- 
place into the room. Then the shovel did the same 
thing. The Mayor said to one of the children, " How, 
Gustave ! what is that ?" The child replied, '^ I did not 
touch it." The tongs and shovel were then re2:>laced, 
and a second time they leaped forward into the room. 
This time, as the Mayor testified, he had his eyes fixed 
upon them, so as to detect the trick in case any one 
pushed them; but nothing was to be seen.f 

M. Leroux, curate of Saussay, deposes that, being at 
the parsonage, he witnessed things that were inexj)lica- 
ble to him. He saw a hammer fly, impelled by an in- 
visible force, from the spot where it lay, and fall on the 
floor of the room without more noise than if a hand had 
lightly placed it there. He also saw a piece of bread 
that was Ij'ing on the table move of itself and fall below 
the table. He was so placed that it was impossible that 
any one could have thrown these things without his 
seeing him do it. He _ also heard the extraordinary 
noises, and took every possible precaution, even to 
placing himself under the table, to assure himself that 
the children did not produce them. So sure was he of 
this, that, to use his own expression, he would '^ sign it 
with his blood." ("Je le signer ais de mon sang.") He 

* Testimony of Auguste Huet. 

f Testimony of Adolphe Cheval, Mayor of Cideville. 


remarked that M. Tinel appeared exasperated by these 
noises and their continued repetition ; and he added 
that, having slept several nights in the same room 
as M. Tinel, the latter awoke in a fright at the disturb- 

The deposition of the IMarquis de Mirville, proprietor 
at Gomerville, is one of the most circumstantial. He 
testifies to the following effect. Having heard much of 
the disturbances at Cideville, he suddenly resolved one 
day to go there. The distance from his residence is 
fourteen leagues. He arrived at the parsonage at night- 
fall, unexpected by its inmates, and passed the evening 
there, never losing sight of the curate nor leaving him 
a moment alone with the children. The curate knew 
the marquis's name, but only from a letter of introduc- 
tion which the latter had brought. 

M. de Mirville passed the night at the parsonage, the 
ourate having given up to him his bed, in the same 
room in which the children slept. No disturbance 
during the night. The next morning one of the chil- 
dren awoke him, and said, "Do you hear, sir, how it 
scratches ?" 

*'What, my child?'' 

^' The spirit." 

And the marquis heard, in effect, a strong scratching 
on the mattress of the children's bed. He notified the 
mysterious agent, however, that he should not think the 
noises worth listening to unless the theater of ojoera- 
tions was removed from where the children were. Then 
the knockings were heard above the bed. " Too near 
yet!" said M. de Mirville. "Go and knock at that 
corner," (pointing to a distant corner of the room.) In- 
stantly the knocking was heard there. "Ah !" said the 
marquis, " now Ave can converse : strike a single blow 
if you agree." A loud blow for answer. 

* Testimony of Martin Tranquille Leroux, curate of Saussay. 



So, after breakfast; the curate having gone to mass 
and the cliiklren being in the room at their studies, he 
carried out his intention, thus : — 

" How many letters are there in my name ? Answer 
by the number of strokes." 

Eight strokes were given. 

*^IIow many in my given name V 

Five strokes. (Jules.) 

" How many in my pre-name?" (pre-7iom; a name, he 
remarked, by which he was never called, and which was 
only known from his baptismal record.) 

Seven strokes. (Charles.) 

" How many in my eldest daughter's name ?" 

Five strokes. (Aline.) 

" How many in my younger daughter's name ?" 

Nine strokes. This time the first error, the name 
being Blanche ; but the blows immediately began again 
and struck seven, thus correcting the original mistake. 

" How many letters in the name of my commune ? 
but take care and don't make a common mistake in 
spelling it." 

A pause. Then ten strokes, — the correct number of 
Gomerville ; often erroneously spelled Gommerville. 

At the request of this witness, the knockings beat time 
to several airs. One, the w^altz from " Gidllaume Tell,'' 
which it could not beat, was hummed by M. de Mirville. 
After a pause, the knockings followed the measure note 
by note ; and it was several times repeated in the course 
of the day. 

The witness, being asked if he thought the curate 
could be himself the author of these disturbances, re- 
plied, "I should be greatly astonished if any person in 
this neighborhood could entertain such an opinion."* 

Madame dc Saint-Yictor, residing in a neighboring 
chateau, had frequently visited the parsonage, — at first, 

* Testimony of Charles Jules de Mirville. 


as she deposed, completely incredulous, and convinced 
that she could discover the cause of the disturbances. 
On the 8th of December, after vespers, being in the 
parsonage, and standing apart from any one, she felt 
her mantle seized by an invisible force, so as to give her 
a strong pull or shock, {une forte secousse.') Among 
various other phenomena, just one week before she gave 
her evidence, (January 22,) while she was alone with the 
children, she saw two desks, at which they were then 
engaged in writing, upset on the floor, and the table 
upset on the top of them. On the 28th of January, she 
saw a candlestick take flight from the kitchen chimney- 
piece and strike her femme-de-chambre on the back. 
She also, in company with her son, heard the knockings 
beat the measure of various airs. When it beat " 3Iaitre 
Corbeau," she said, ^'Is that all you know?" Where- 
upon it immediate^ beat the measure of "Claire de Lune" 
and ^'■J^ai dii bon'c." During the beating of several 
of these airs, being alone with the children, she observed 
them narrowly, — their feet, their hands, and all their 
movements. It was impossible that they should have 
done it.* 

Another important witness, M. Robert de Saint- Yictor, 
son of the preceding witness, deposed as follows. On 
the invitation of the curate, several days after the dis- 
turbances began, he visited the parsonage, about half- 
past three in the afternoon. Going up-stairs, after a 
time he heard sjight knockings on the wainscot. They 
resembled, yet were not exactly like, sounds produced 
by an iron point striking on hard wood. The wit- 
ness arrived quite incredulous, and satisfied that he 
could discover the cause of these knockings. The first 
day they strongly excited his attention, but did not 
secure his conviction. The next day, at ten o'clock, 

* Deposition of Marie-Franjoise Adolphine Deschamps de Bois-Hebert, 
wife of M. de Saint-Victor. 


he returned. Several popular songs were then, at his 
request, beaten in time. The same day, about three 
o'clock, he heard blows so heavy that he was sure a 
mallet striking on the floor would not have produced 
the like. Toward evening these blows were continued 
almost without interruption. At that time, M. Cheval, 
tlie Mayor of Cideville, and the witness, went over the 
house together. They saw, several times, the table at 
which the children were sitting move from its place. 
To assure themselves that this could not jDossibly be the 
children's doing, they placed both the children in the 
middle of the room; then M. Cheval and the witness sat 
down to the table, and felt it move away from the wall 
several times. They tried by main force to prevent it 
from moving; but their united efl'orts were unavailing. 
In spite of them, it moved from ten to twelve centimetreSy 
(about four inches,) and that w4th a uniform motion, 
without any jerk. The witness's mother, who was 
present, had previously testified to the same fact.* 
While the curate w^as gone to the church, the witness 
remained alone with the children ; and presently there 
arose such a clatter in the room that one could hardly 
endure it. Every piece of furniture there was set 
in vibration. And the witness confessed that he ex- 
pected every moment that the floor of the apartment 
would sink beneath his feet. He felt convinced that 
if every person in the house had set to work, to- 
gether, to pound with mallets on the floor, they could 
not have produced such a racket. The noise appeared 
especially to attach itself to the younger of the two 
children, the knockings being usually on that part of the 
wainscot nearest to where ho happened to stand or sit. 
The child appeared in constant terror. 

The witness finally became thoroughly convinced that 

■•■■ See testimony of Madame de Saint-Victor. 


the occult force, whatever its precise character, was in- 
telh'gent. AVhcn he returned, several days later, to the 
parsonage, the phenomena continued with still increas- 
ing violence. One evening, desiring to enter the room 
where the children usually sat, the door resisted his 
efforts to open it, — a resistance which, the witness 
averred, he could not attribute to a natural cause ; for 
when he succeeded in pushing it open and entering the 
room there was no one there. Another day, it occurred 
to him to ask for an air but little known, — the Stabat 
Mater, of Eossini; and it was given with extraordinary 

Eeturning, some days later, on the renewed invita- 
tion of the curate, this witness went up-stairs; and at 
the moment when he came opj)Osite the door of the 
upper room, a desk that stood on the table at which 
the children usuallj^ studied (but they were not there 
at the time) started from its place, and came toward 
the witness with a swift motion, and following a line 
parallel with the floor, until it was about thirty centi- 
metres (one foot) from his person, when it fell vertically 
to the floor. The place where it fell was distant about 
two metres (between six and seven feet) from the table.* 

The witness Bouffay, vicar of St. Maclou, stated that 
he had been several times at the parsonage. The first 
time he heard continued noises in the apartments occu- 
pied by the children. These noises were intelligent 
and obedient. On one occasion, the witness sleeping in 
the children's room, the uproar was so violent that he 
thought the floor would open beneath him. He heard 
the noises equally in the j)resence and the absence of 
the curate; and he took especial notice that the chil- 
dren were motionless wdien the disturbances occurred, 
and evidentl}' could not produce them. On one occa- 

Testimony of M. Raoul Robert de Saint-Victor. 


sion, the ^Yituess, with the curate and the children, 
slept at a neighbor's house to escape the continued 

The deposition of Dufour, land-agent at Yerville, was 
to the effect that, on the 7th of December, being at 
dinner in the parsonage, knockings were heard above. 
Mademoiselle Tinel said, "Do you hear? These are 
the noises that occur." The witness went up-stairs, 
and found the children sitting each at one end of the 
table, but distant from it fifty or sixty centimetres, 
(about two feet.) He heard strokes in the wall, which 
he is sure the children did not make. Then the table 
advanced into the room without any one touching it. 
The witness put it back in its place. It moved forward 
a second time about three metres (about ten feet) into 
the room, the children not touching it. As the witness 
was going down the stairs, he stopped on the first step 
to look round at the table, and saw it come forward to 
the edge of the stairway, impelled by an invisible force. 
The witness remarked that the table had no castors. 
This occurred while the curate was absent from the 

The witness Gobert, vicar of St. Maclou, testified that 
when the curate of Cideville and the two children came 
to his (Gobert's) house, he heard, on the ceiling and 
walls of his apartment, noises similar to those which 
he (Gobert) had before heard at the Cideville parsonage. J 

Such are the main facts to which witnesses in this 
strange suit testified. I have omitted those which 
rested only .on the testimony of the children. The in- 
dustry of M. de Mirville has collected and embodied in 
the pamphlet referred to additional evidence, in the 

* Testimony of Athanase Bouffay, vicar of St. Maclou, of Rouen. 

f Testimony of Nicolas-Boniface Dufour, land-agent at Yerville. 

J Testimony of Adalbert Honor6 Gobert, vicar of St. Maclou, of Rouen. 


shape of several letters written by respectable gentle- 
men who visited the parsonage during the disturbances. 
One is from the assistant judge of a neighboring tribu- 
nal, M. Eousselin. He found the curate profoundly 
afflicted by his painful position, and obtained from him 
every opportunity of cross-questioning, separately, the 
children, M. Tinel's sister, and his servant. Their entire 
demeanor bore the impress of truthfulness. Their 
testimony was clear, direct, and uniformly consistent. 
He found the window-panes broken, and boards set up 
against them. Another gentlemen states that, on his 
arrival at the parsonage, he was struck with the sad and 
unhappy look of the curate, who, he adds, impressed 
him, from his appearance, as a most worth}- man. 

All these letters fully corroborate the preceding 

It would be difficult to find a case more explicit or 
better authenticated than the foregoing. Yet it is cer- 
tain that the phenomena it discloses, closely as these 
resemble what has been occurring for ten years past 
all over the United States, are not traceable, directly or 
indirectly, through the influence of imitation, epidemic 
excitement, or otherwise, to the Spiritual movement 
among us. The history of the Eochester knockiugs, 
then but commencing here, had never reached the hum- 
ble parsonage of Cideville, and afforded no explanation 
to its alarmed inmates of the annoyances which broke 
their quiet and excited their fears. 

I might go on, indefinitely, extending the number of 
similar narratives, but a repetition would prove nothing 
more than is established by the specimens already given. 
I therefore here close my list of disturbances occurring 
in Europe, and proceed to furnish, in conclusion, from 
the most authentic sources, that example, already re- 
ferred to, occurring in our own country, which has 


become known, in Europe as well as America; under 
the name of the "Eochester*Knockings." 


Disturbances in Western New York, 


There stands, not far from the town of ]N"ewark, in 
the county of Wayne and State of New York, a wooden 
dwelling, — one of a cluster of small houses like itself, 
scarcely meriting the title of a village, but known under 
the name of Hydesville ; being so called after Dr. Hyde, 
an old settler, whose son is the proprietor of the house 
in question. It is a story and a half high, fronting 
south; the lower floor consisting, in 1848, of two mode- 
rate-sized rooms, opening into each other ; east of these 
a bedroom, opening into the sitting-room, and a buttery, 
opening into the same room ; together with a stairway, 
(between the bedroom and buttery,) leading from the 
sitting-room up to the half-story above, and from the 
buttery down to the cellar. 

This humble dwelling had been selected as a tem- 
porary residence, during the erection of another house 
in the countr}^, by Mr. John D. Fox. 

The Fox family were reputable farmers, members of 
the Methodist Church in good standing, and much re- 
spected by their neighbors as honest, upright peoj)le. 
Mr. Fox's ancestors were Germans, the name being 
originally Voss; but both he and Mrs. Fox were native 
born. In Mrs. Fox's family, French by origin and 
Eutan by name, several individuals had evinced the 
power of second-sight, — her maternal grandmother, 
whose maiden name was Margaret Ackerman, and who 
resided at Long Island, among the number. She had, 
frequently, perceptions of funerals before they occurred, 
and was wont to follow these phantom processions to 
the grave as if they were material. 


Mrs. Fox's sister also, Mrs. Elizabeth Higgins, had 
similar power. On one occasion, in the 3^ear 1823, the 
two sisters, then residing in New York, proposed to go 
to Sodus by canal. But Elizabeth said, one morning, 
^'We shall not make this trip by water." "Why so?" 
her sister asked. "Because I dreamed last night that 
we traveled by land, and there was a strange lady with 
us. In my dream, too, I thought we came to Mott's 
tavern, in the Beech woods, and that thc^^ could not 
admit us, because Mrs. Mott lay dying in the house. I 
know it will all come true." " Yery unlikely indeed,'^ 
replied her sister; "for last year, when w^e passed 
there, Mr. Mott's wife lay dead in the house." " You 
will see. He must have married again ; and he will lose 
his second wife." Every particular came to pass as 
Mrs. Higgins had predicted. Mrs. Johnson, a stranger, 
whom at the time of the dream they had not seen, did 
go with them, they made the journey by land, and 
were refused admittance into Mott's tavern, for the very 
cause .assigned in Mrs. Higgins's dream. 

Mr. and Mrs. Fox had six children, of whom the two 
youngest were staying with them when, on the 11th 
of December, 1847, they removed into the house I have 
described. The children were both girls : Margaret, 
then twelve years old; and Kate, nine. 

Soon after they had taken up their residence in the 
dwelling referred to, they began to think it was a very 
noisy house; but this was attributed to rats and mice-. 
During the next month, however, (Januar^^, 1848,) the 
noise began to assume the character of slight knock- 
ings heard at night in the bedroom; sometimes appear- 
ing to sound from the cellar beneath. At first Mi'S. 
Fox sought to persuade herself this might be but the 
hammering of a shoemaker, in a house hard by, sitting 
up late at work. But further observation showed that 
the sounds, whencesoever proceeding, originated in the 


house. For not only did the knockings gradually be- 
come more distinct, and not only were they heard first in 
one imvt of the house, then in another, but the family 
Anally remarked that these raps, even when not very 
loud, often caused a motion, tremulous rather than a 
sudden jar, of the bedsteads and chairs, — sometimes of 
the floor; a motion which was quite perceptible to the 
touch when a hand was laid on the chairs, which was 
sometimes sensibly felt at night in the slightly oscil- 
lating motion of the bed, and which was occasionally 
perceived as a sort of vibration even when standing on 
the floor. 

After a time, also, the noises varied in their character, 
sounding occasionally like distinct footfalls in the differ- 
ent rooms. 

IS'or were the disturbances, after a month or two had 
passed, confined to sounds. Once something heavy, 
as if a dog, seemed to lie on the feet of the children ; 
but it was gone before the mother could come to their 
aid. Another time (this was late in March) Kate felt 
as if a cold hand on her face. Occasionally, too, the 
bed-clothes were pulled during the night. Finally chairs 
were moved from their places. So, on one occasion, 
was the dining-table. 

The disturbances, which had been limited to occasional 
knockings throughout February and the early part of 
March, gradually increased, toward the close of the latter 
month, in loudness and fr.equency, so seriously as to break 
the rest of the family. Mr. Fox and his wife got up night 
after night, lit a candle, and thoroughlj^ searched every 
nook and corner of the house ; but without any result. They 
discovered nothing. When the raps came on a door, 
Mr. Fox would stand, ready to open, the moment they 
were repeated. But this expedient, too, proved unavail- 
ing. Though he opened the door on the instant, there 
was no one to be seen. Nor did he or Mrs. Fox ever 


obtain the slightest clew to the cause of these disturh- 

The only circumstance which seemed to suggest the 
possibility of trickery or of mistake was, that these 
various unexplained occurrences never happened in 

And thus, notwithstanding the strangeness of the 
thing, when morning came they began to think it must 
have been but the fimcy of the night. N'ot being 
given to superstition, they clung, throughout several 
weeks of annoyance, to the idea that some natural ex- 
]Dlanation of these seeming accidents would at last 
appear. Nor did they abandon this hope till the night 
of Friday, the 31st of March, 1848. 

The day had been cold and stormy, with snow on the 
ground. In the course of the afternoon, a son, David, 
came to visit them from his farm, about three miles dis- 
tant. His mother then first recounted to him the par- 
ticulars of the annoyances they had endured; for till 
now they had been little disposed to communicate these 
to any one. He heard her with a smile. ""Well, 
mother," he said, " I advise you not to say a word to 
the neighbors about it. When joii find it out, it will be 
one of the simplest things in the world.'' And in that 
belief he returned home. 

Wearied out by a succession of sleepless nights and 
of fruitless attempts to penetrate the mystery, the Fox 
family retired on that Friday evening very early to 
rest, hoping for a respite from the disturbances that, 
harassed them. But the}^ were doomed to disapj^ointment. 
The parents had had the children's beds removed into 
their bedroom, and strictly enjoined them not to talk 
of noises even if they heard them. But scarcely had 
the mother seen them safely in bed, and was retiring to 
rest herself, when the children cried out, "Here they 
are again I" The mother chid them, and lay down. 


Thereupon the noises became louder and more startling. 
The children sat up in bed. Mrs. Fox called in her hus- 
band. The night being windy, it suggested itself to 
him that it might be the rattling of the sashes. He 
tried several, shaking them to see if they were loose. 
Kate, the youngest girl, happened to remark that as 
often as her father shook a window-sash the noises 
seemed to reply. Being a lively child, and in a measure 
accustomed to what was going on, she turned to where 
the noise was, snapped her fingers, and called out, "Here, 
old Splitfoot, do as I do !" The knocking instantly responded. 

That was the very commencement. Who can tell 
where the end will be ? 

I do not mean that it was Kate Fox who thus, half 
in childish jest, first discovered that these mysterious 
sounds seemed instinct with intelligence. Mr. Mompes- 
son, two hundred years ago, had already observed a 
similar phenomenon. Glanvil had verified it. So had 
Weslej^ and his children. So, we have seen, had others. 
But in all these cases the matter rested there, and the 
observation was no further prosecuted. As, previous 
to the invention of the steam-engine, suiidry observers 
had trodden the very threshold of the discovery and 
there stopped, little thinking what lay close before 
them, so, in this case, where the Royal Chaplain, dis- 
ciple though he was of the inductive philosophy, and 
where the founder of Methodism, admitting though he 
did the probabilities of ultramundane interference, 
.were both at fiiult, a Yankee girl, but nine years old, 
following up, more in sport than earnest, a chance ob- 
servation, became the instigator of a movement which, 
whatever its true character, has had its influence 
throughout the civilized world. The spark had several 
times been ignited, — once, at least, two centuries ago; 
but it had died out each time without effect. It kindled 
no flame till the middle of the nineteenth century. 

31 ST OP MARCII^ 1848. 289 

And yet how trifling the step from the observation at 
Tedworth to the discovery at Hydcsville ! Mr. Mom- 
pesson, in bed with his little daughter, (about Kate's 
age,) whom the sound seemed chiefly to follow, '^ ob- 
served that it would exactly answer, in drumming, any 
thing that was beaten or called for." But his curiosity 
led him no further. 

IN'ot so Kate Fox. She tried, by silently bringing to- 
gether her thumb and forefinger, whether she could still 
obtain a response. Yes ! It could see, then, as well as 
hear ! She called her mother. " Only look, mother !" she 
said, bringing together her finger and thumb as before. 
And as often as she repeated the noiseless motion, just 
so often responded the raps. 

This at once arrested her mother's attention. "Count 
ten," she said, addressing the noise. Ten strokes, dis- 
tinctly given ! "How old is my daughter Margaret?" 
Twelve strokes! "And Kate?" ^ine ! "What can 
all this mean?" was Mrs. Fox's thought. Who was 
answering her ? Was it only some mysterious echo of 
her own thought? But the next question which she 
put seemed to refute that idea. " How many children 
have I?" she asked, aloud. Seven strokes. "Ah!" she 
thought, "'it can blunder sometimes." And then, aloud, 
"Try again!" Still the number of raps was seven. 
Of a sudden a thought crossed Mrs. Fox's mind. "Are 
they all alive ?" she asked. Silence, for answer. "How 
many are living?" Six strokes. " How many dead ?•" 
A single stroke. She had lost a child. 

Then she asked, "Are you a man?" ^o answer. 
"Are you a spirit?" It rapped. "May my neighbors 
hear if I call them ?" It rapped again. 

Thereupon she asked her husband to call a neighbor, 
a Mrs. Eedfield, who came in laughing. But her cheer 
was soon changed. The answers to her inquiries were 
T 25 


as prompt and pertinent as they had been to those of 
Mrs. Fox. She was struck with awe; and when, in 
reply to a question about the number of her children, 
by rapping four, instead of three as she expected, it re- 
minded her of a little daughter, Mary, whom she had 
recently lost, the mother burst into tears. 

But it avails not further to follow out in minute 
detail the issue of these disturbances, since the par- 
ticulars have already been given, partly in the shape of 
formal depositions, in more than one publication,* and 
since they are not essential to the illustration of this 
branch of the subject. 

It may, however, be satisfactory to the reader that I 
here subjoin to the above narrative — every particular of 
which I had from Mrs. Fox, her daughters Margaret 
and Kate, and her son David — a supplement, containing 

* The earliest of these, published in Canandaigua only three weeks after 
the occurrences of the 31st of Mai'ch, is a pamphlet of forty pages, entitled 
"^ Rej>ort of the Jfysterious Noises heard in the house of 3fr. John D. Fox, 
in Hijdesville, Arcadia, Wayne County, authenticated hy the certificates and 
confirmed hy the statements of the citizens of that 2ilcice and vicinity." Canan- 
daigua, published by E. E. Lewis, 1S48. It contains twenty-one certificates, 
chiefly given by the immediate neighbors, including those of Mr. and Mrs. 
Fox, of their son and daughter-in-law, of Mrs. Redfield, <tc. &c., taken chiefly 
on the 11th and 12th of April. For a copy of the above pamphlet, now very 
scarce, I am indebted to the family of Mr. Fox, whom I visited in August, 
1859, at the house of the son, Mr. John D. Fox, when I had an opportunity to 
visit the small dwelling in which the above-related circumstances took place; 
descending to its cellar, the alleged scene of dark deeds. The house is now 
occupied by a farm-laborer, who, Faraday-like, " does not believe in sjwoks." 

A more connected account, followed up by a history of the movement 
which had birth at Hydesville, is to be found in ^'Modern Spiritualism : its 
Facts and Fanaticisms," by E. W. Capron, Boston, 1855, pp. 33 to 56. 

Most of the witnesses signing the certificates above referred to offer to 
confirm their statements, if necessary, under oath; and they almost all 
expressly declare their conviction that the family had no agency in pro- 
ducing the sounds, that these were not referable to trick or deception or 
to any known natural cause, usually adding that they wore no believers in 
the supernatural, and had never before heard or witnessed any thing not 
susceptible of a natural explanation. 


a brief outline as well of the events which immediately 
succeeded, as those, connected with the dwelling in 
question, which preceded; the disturbances of the 31st 
of ]\larch. 

On that night the neighbors, attracted by the rumor 
of the disturbances, gradually gathered in, to the num- 
ber of seventy or eighty, so that Mrs. Fox left the house 
for that of Mrs. Redfield, while the children were taken 
home by another neighbor. Mr. Fox remained. 

Many of the assembled crowd, one after another, put 
questions to the noises, requesting that assent might be 
testified by rapping. When there was no response by 
raps, and the question was reversed, there were always 
rappings; thus indicating that silence was to be taken 
for dissent. 

In this way the sounds alleged that they were pro- 
duced by a spirit; by an injured sj^irit ] by a spirit who 
had been injured in that house; between four and five 
years ago; not by any of the neighbors, whose names 
were called over one by one, but by a man who formerly 
resided in the house, — a certain John C. Bell, a black- 
smith. His name was obtained by naming in succession 
the former occupants of tlie house. 

The noises alleged, further, that it was the spirit of a 
man thirty-one years of age; that he had been murdered 
in the bedroom, for money, on a Tuesday night, at 
twelve o'clock; that no one but the murdered man and 
Mr. Bell were in the house at the time; Mrs. Bell and a 
girl named Lucretia Pulver, who w^orked for them, 
being both absent; that the body was carried down to 
the cellar early next morning, not through the outside 
cellar-door, but by being dragged through the parlor 
into the buttery and thence down the cellar-stairs; that 
it was buried, ten feet deep, in the cellar, but not until 
the night after the murder. 

Thereupon the party assembled adjourned to the 


cellar, Avhieh had an earthen floor; and Mr. Eedfield 
having j^laccd himself on various parts of it, asking, 
each time, if that was the spot of burial, there was no 
response until he stood in the center: then the noises 
were heard, as from beneath the ground. This was re- 
located several times, always with a similar result, no 
sound occurring when he stood at any other place 
than the center. One of the witnesses describes the 
sounds in the cellar as resembling " a thumping a foot 
or two under ground."* 

Then a neighbor named Duesler called over the letters 
of the alphabet, asking, at each, if that was the initial 
of the murdered man's first name; and so of the second 
name. The sounds responded at C and B. An attempt 
to obtain the entire name did not then succeed. At a 
later period the full name (as Charles B. Rosma) was 
given in the same way in reply to the questions of Mr. 
David Fox. Still it did not suggest itself to any one 
to attempt, by the raps, to have a communication spelled 
out. It is a remarkable fact, and one which in a mea- 
sure explains the lack of further results at TedAvorth 
and at Epworth, that it was not till about four months 
afterward, and at Rochester, that the very first brief 

* '^Report of the Mysterious Noises," p. 25. See also p. 17. 

Mr. Marvin Losey and Mr. David Fox state, in their respective certifi- 
cates, that on the night of Saturday, April 1, when the crowd were asking 
questions, it was arranged that those in the cellar should all stand in one 
place, except one, Mr. Carlos Hyde, while that one moved about to different 
spots ; and that Mr. Duesler, being in the bedroom above, where of course 
he could not see Mr. Hyde nor any one else in the cellar, should be the 
questioner. Then, as Mr. Hyde stepped about in the cellar, the question 
was repeated by Mr. Duesler in the bedroom, "Is any one standing over the 
place where the body was buried ?" In every instance, as soon as Mr, Hyde 
stepped to the center of the cellar the raps were heard, so that both those 
in the cellar and those in the rooms above heard them; but as often as he 
stood anywhere else there was silence. This was repeated, again and agaiu< 
— "Report of the Myaterioue Noises," pp. 26 and 28. 


communication by raps was obtained; the suggester 
being Isaac Post, a member of the Society of Friends, 
and an old acquaintance of the Fox family. 

The report of the night's wonders at Hydesville 
spread all over the neighborhood; and next day, Satur- 
day, the house was beset by a crowd of the curious. 
But while daylight lasted there were no noises.* These 
recommenced before seven o'clock in the evening. That 
night there were some three hundred people in and 
about the house.f Various persons asked questions; 
and the replies corresponded at every point to those 
formerly given. 

Then it was proposed to dig in the cellar; but, as the 
house stands on a flat plain not far from a small slug- 
gish stream, the diggers reached water at the depth of 
less than three feet, and had to abandon the attempt. 
It was renewed on Monday the 3d of April, and 
again the next day, by Mr. David Fox and others, 
baling and pumping out the water ; but they could not 
reduce it much, and had to give up. J 

At a later period, when the water had much lowered, 
to wit, in the summer of 1848, Mr. David Fox, aided by 
Messrs. Henry Bush and Lyman Granger, of Eochester, 
and others, recommenced digging in the cellar. At the 
depth of five feet they came to a plank, through which 
they bored with an auger, when, the auger-bit being 
loose, it dropped through out of sight. Digging farther, 
they found several pieces of crockery and some charcoal 
and quicklime, indicating that the soil must at some 
time have been disturbed to a considerable depth; and 
finally they came upon some human hair and several 
bones, which, on examination by a medical man skilled 

* The next day, however, Sunday, April 2, this was reversed. The 
noises responded throughout the day, but ceased in the evening and were 
not obtained throughout the night. — " Report of the Jli/aterious Noises," p. 9. 

f "Beport of the Mysterious Noises," p. 15. J Ibid. p. 29. 



in anatomy, proved to be portions of a human skeleton, 
including two bones of the hand and certain parts of 
the skull ; but no connected skull was found.* 

It remains briefly to trace the antecedents of the dis- 
turbed dwelling. 

William Duesler, one of those who gave certificates 
touching this matter, and who offers to confirm his tes- 
timony under oath, states that he inhabited the same 
house seven years before, and that during the term of 
his residence there he never heard any noise of the kind 
in or about the premises. He adds that a Mr. Johnson, 
and others, who, like himself, had lived there before Mr. 
Bell occupied the dwelling, make the same statement. f 

Mrs. Pulver, a near neighbor, states that, having called 
one morning on Mrs. Bell while she occupied the house, 
she (Mrs. B.) told her she felt very ill, not having slept 
at all during the previous night ; and, on being asked 
what the matter was, Mrs. Bell said she had thought 
she heard some one walking about from one room to 
another. Mrs. Pulver further deposes that she heard 
Mrs. Bell, on subsequent occasions, speak of noises 
which she could not account for.J 

The daughter of this deponent, Lucretia Pulver, states 
that she lived with Mr. and Mrs. Bell during part of the 
time they occupied the house, namely, for three months 
during the winter of 1843-44, sometimes working for 
them, sometimes boarding with them, and going to 
school, she being then fifteen years old. She says Mr. 
and Mrs. Bell " appeared to be very good folks, only 
rather quick-tempered.^' 

She states that, during the latter part of her residence 
with them, one afternoon, about two o'clock, a peddler, 
on foot, apparently about thirty years of age, wearing a 

^^ " Modern Spiritualism," p. 53. Mr. David Fox, during my A^isit to 
him, confirmed to me the. truth of this. 

•(■ " Brjjnrt nf the Mysterious Noisfs," p. 16. % Ibid. pp. .37, 38. 


black frock-coat and lio-lit-colored pantaloons, and having 
with him a trunk and a basket, called at Mr. Bell's. Mrs. 
Bell informed her she had known him formerly. kShortly 
after he came in, Mr. and Mrs. Bell consulted together for 
nearly half an hour in the buttery. Then Mrs. Bell told 
her — ver}^ unexpectedly to her — that they did not re- 
quire her any more; that she (Mrs. B.) was going that 
afternoon to Lock Berlin, and that she (Lucretia) had 
better return home, as they thought they could not 
afford to keep her longer. Accordingly, Mrs. Bell and 
Lucretia left the house, the peddler and Mr. Bell re- 
maining. Before she went, however, Lucretia looked 
at a piece of delaine, and told the peddler she would take 
a dress off it if he would call the next day at her father's 
house, hard by, which he promisied to do ; but he never 
came. Three days afterward, Mrs. Bell returned, and, 
to Lucretia's surprise, sent for her again to stay with 

A few days after this, Lucretia began to hear knock- 
ing in the bedroom — afterward occupied hy Mr. and 
Mrs. Fox — where she slept. The sounds seemed to be 
under the foot of the bed, and were repeated during a 
number of nia:hts. One nio;ht, when Mr. and Mrs. Bell 
had gone to Lock Berlin, and she had remained in the 
house with her little brother and a daughter of Mr. 
Losey, named Aurelia, they heard, about twelve o'clock, 
what seemed the footsteps of a man walking in the but- 
tery. They had not gone to bed till eleven, and. had 
not yet fallen asleep. It sounded as if some one crossed 
the buttery, then went down the cellar-stair, then 
walked part of the way across the cellar, and stopped. 
The girls were greatly frightened, got up and fastened 
doors and windows. 

About a week after this, Lucretia, having occasion to 
go down into the cellar, screamed out. Mrs. Bell asked 
what was the matter. Lucretia exclaimed, " What has 


Mr. Bell been doing in the cellar?" She had sunk in the 
soft soil and Ihllen. Mrs. Bell replied that it was only 
rat-holes. A few days afterward, at nightfall, Mr. Bell 
carried some earth into the cellar, and was at Avork 
there some time. Mrs. Bell said he was filling up the 

Mr. and Mrs. Weekman depose that they occupied the 
house in question, after Mr. Bell left it, during eighteen 
months, namely, from the spring of 184G till the autumn 
of 1847. 

About March, 1847, one night as they were going to 
bed they heard knockings on the outside door; but when 
they opened there was no one there. This was repeated, 
till Mr. Weekman lost patience ; and, after searching all 
round the house, he resolved, if possible, to detect these 
disturbers of his peace. Accordingly, he stood with his 
hand on the door, ready to open it at the instant the 
knocking was repeated. It teas repeated, so that he felt 
the door jar under his hand; but, though he sprang out 
instantly and searched all round the house, he found 
not a trace of any intruder. 

They were frequently afterward disturbed by strange 
and unaccountable noises. One night Mrs. Weekman 
heard what seemed the footsteps of some one walking 
in the cellar. Another night one of her little girls, eight 
years old, screamed out, so as to wake every one in the 
house. She said something cold had been moving over 
her head and face; and it was long ere the terrified 
child was pacified, nor would she consent to sleep in the 
same room for several nights afterward. 

Mr. Weekman offers to repeat his certificate, if re- 
quired, under oath.f 

* " Beport of the Jlystcn'ous Noises," pp. 35, 36, 37. I have added a few 
minor particulars, related by Lucretia to Mrs. Fox. 
t Ibid. pp. 33, 34. 


But it needs not fui-ther to multiply extracts from 
these depositions. ]S"othing positive can be gathered 
from them. It is certain, however, that the peddler never 
reappeared in Hydesville nor kept his promises to call. 
On the other hand, Mr. Bell, who had removed early in 
1846 to the town of Lyons, in the same county, on hear- 
ing the reports of the above disclosures, came forthwith 
to the scene of his former residence, and obtained from 
the neighbors, and made public, a certificate setting 
forth that "they never knew any thing against his cha- 
racter," and^that when he lived among them "they 
thought him, and still think him, a man of honest and 
upright character, incapable of committing crime." This 
certificate is dated April 5, (six days after the first com- 
munications,) and is signed by forty-four persons. The 
author of the " Eeport of the Mysterious Noises," in 
giving it entire, adds that others besides the signers are 
willing to join in the recommendation.'^ 

It is proper also to state, in this connection, that, a 
few months afterward, — to wit, in July or August, 1848, — 
a circumstance occurred at Rochester, New York, some- 
what analogous in character, and indicating the danger 
of indulging, without corroborating evidence, in suspi- 
cions aroused by alleged spiritual information. A young 
peddler, with a wagon and two horses, and known to be 
possessed of several hundred dollars, having put up at a 
tavern in that city, suddenly disapj^eared. Public opi- 
nion settled down to the belief that he was murdered. 
An enthusiastic Spiritualist had the surmise confirmed 
by the raps. Through the same medium the credulous 
inquirer was informed that the body lay in the canal, 
several spots being successively indicated where it could 
be found. These were anxiously dragged, but to no pur- 
pose. Finally the dupe's wife was required to go into 

' Beport of the Mysterious Noises," pp. 38, 39. 


the canal at a designated point, where she would cer- 
tainl}' discover the corpse; in obeying which injunction 
she nearly lost her life. Some months afterward, the 
alleged victim reappeared : he had departed secretly for 
Canada, to avoid the importunities of his creditors."^ 

In the Ilydesville case, too, there was some rebutting 
evidence. The raps had alleged that, though the peddler's 
Avifc was dead, his five children lived in Orange County, 
New York; but all efforts to discover them there were 
fruitless. Nor does it appear that any man named 
Eosma was ascertained to have resided there. 

It remains to be added that no legal proceedings were 
ever instituted, either against Mr. Bell, in virtue of the 
suspicions aroused, or by him against those who ex- 
pressed such suspicions. He finally left the country. 

It is evident that no sufficient case is made out against 
him. The statements of the earthly witnesses amount 
to circumstantial evidence only; and upon unsupported 
ultramundane testimony no dependence can be placed. 
It may supply hints; it may suggest inquiries; but as- 
surance it cannot give. 

The Ilydesville narrative, however, as one of unex- 
plained disturbances, like tlipse at Cideville, at Ahrens- 
burg, at Slawensik, at Epworth, and at Tedworth, rests 
for verification on the reality of the phenomena them- 
selves, not on the accuracy of the extrinsic information 
alleged to be thereby supplied. 
— I 

* For details, see "Modern Spiritualism," pp. 60 to 62. If we concede 
the reality of the spirit-rap, and if we assume to judge of ultramundane in- 
tentions, we may imagine that the purpose was, by so early and so marked 
a lesson, to warn men, even from the commencement, against putting im- 
plicit faith in spiritual communications. 

It is worthy of remark, however, that there is this great diflFerence in 
these two cases, that the Hydesville communications came by spontaneous 
agency, uncalled for, unlocked for, while those obtained at Rochester were 
evoked and expected. 


With this case I close the list of those narrations; for 
to follow up similar examples, since occurring through- 
out our country,* would lead me, away from my object, 
into the history of the rise and progress of the Spiritual 

movement itself. 


*■ As that occurring at Stratford, Connecticut, in the house of the Rev. 
Dr. Eliakim Phelps, more whimsical, and also more surprising, in many of 
its modifications, than any of those here related; commencing on the 10th 
of March, 1850, and continuing, with intervals, a year and nine months; 
namely, till the loth of December, 1851. A detailed account of this case 
will be found in '^Modern Sjnritualium," pp. 132 to 171. 



I HAVE few words to add, in summing up tiie foregoing 
evidence that the disturbances which give rise to rumors 
of haunted houses are, in certain cases, actual and un- 
explained phenomena. 

Little comment is needed, or is likely to be useful. 
There are men so hard-set in their preconceptions on 
certain points that no evidence can move them. Time 
and the resistless current of public sentiment alone avail 
to urge them on. They must wait. And as to those 
whose ears are still open, whose convictions can still be 
reached, few, I venture to predict, will put aside, un- 
moved and incredulous, the mass of proof here brought 
together. Yet a few considerations, briefly stated, may 
not be out of place. 

The testimon}^, in most of the examples, is direct and 
at first hand, given by eye and ear witnesses and placed 
on record at the time. 

It is derived from reputable sources. Can we take 
exception to the character and standing of such wit- 
nesses as Joseph Grlanvil, John Wesley, Justinus Kerner? 
Can we object to the authority of Mackay, a skeptic and 
a derider? Does not the narrative of Hahn evince in 
the observer both coolness and candor? As to the 
Ahrensburg story, it is the daughter of the chief ma- 
gistrate concerned in its investigation who testifies. 
And where shall we find, among a multitude of witnesses, 
better proof of honesty than in the agreement in the 
depositions at Cideville and at Hydcsville ? 

The phenomena were such as could be readily observed. 
Many of them were of a character so palpable and no- 



torioiis that for the observers to imagine them was a 
sheer impossibilit}'. The thundering blows at Mr. Mom- 
pesson's shook the house and awoke the neighbors in an 
adjoining vilhige. The poundings at Madame Hauffe's 
displaced the rafters and arrested the attention of passers- 
by in the street. At Epworth, let them make w^hat 
noises they might, the ''dead, hollow note would be 
clearl}^ heard above them all." At Hydesville, the house 
•was abandoned by its occupants, and hundreds of the 
curious assembled, night after night, to test the reality 
of the knockings which sounded from every part of it. 

There was ample opportunity to observe. The occur- 
rences were not single appearances, suddenly presenting 
themselves, quickly passing away: they were repeated 
day after day, month after month, sometimes year after 
year. They could be tested and re-tested. Nor did 
they produce in the witnesses an evanescent belief, 
fading away after sober reflection. Mr. Mompesson, 
Councilor Hahn, Emily Wesley, when half a lifetime 
had passed by, retained, and expressed, the same un- 
wavering conviction as at first. 

The narratives fail neither in minute detail of circum- 
stance, nor in specifications of person, of time, and of 

The observers w^ere not influenced by expectancy, nor 
biased by recital of previous examples. The pheno- 
mena, indeed, have been of frequent occurrence; exhi- 
biting an unmistakable family likeness, constituting a 
class. Yet not in a single instance does this fact appear 
to have been knowm to the observers. That which each 
witnessed he believed to be unexampled, x^either at 
Tedworth, nor Epworth, nor Slawensik, nor Baldarroch, 
nor Ahrensburg, nor Cideville, nor Hydesville, do the 
sufi^erers seem to have known that others had suff'ered 
by similar annoyance before. The more reliable, on 
that account; is their testimony. 



There ■\Yas not only no motive for simulation, but 
much temptation to conceal what actually occurred. 
Mr. Mompesson suffered in his name and estate. Mrs. 
Wesley strictly enjoined her son to impart the narrative 
to no one. Judge Eousselin found the curate of Cide- 
ville profoundlj^ afflicted by his painful position. Mrs. 
Fox's health (as I learned) suffered seriously from grief. 
"What have we done/' she used to say, "to deserve 
this?" We can readil}^ conceive that such must have 
been the feeling. What more mortifying or painful than 
to be exposed to the suspicion of being either a willful 
impostor, or else the subject of punishment, from Hea- 
ven, for past misdeeds? 

Finally, the phenomena were sometimes attested by 
the official records of public justice. So, during the 
trial of the drummer, the suit of Captain Molesvvorth, 
and the legal proceedings instituted, at Gideville, against 
the shepherd Thorel. Where shall we seek a higher 
grade of human evidence? 

If such an array of testimony as this, lacking no ele- 
ment of trustworthiness, converging from numerous in- 
dependent sources, yet concurrent through two centuries, 
be not entitled to credit, then what dependence can we 
place on the entire records of history? What becomes 
of the historical evidence for any past event whatever? 
If we are to reject, as fable, the narratives here sub- 
mitted, are we not tacitl}' indorsing the logic of those who 
argue that Jesus Christ never lived? Nay, must we not 
accept as something graver than pleasantry that 
pamphlet in which a learned and ingenious Churchman 
sets forth plausible reasons for the belief that rumor, in 
her most notorious iterations, may be but a lying wit- 
ness, and that it is doubtful whether Napoleon Buona- 
parte ever actually existed?* 

•*■ "-Historic Doubts relative to Napoleon Buonaparte," by Archbishop 
Whateley, 12th ed., London, 1855. 





The evidence for a future life derived from an occa- 
sional appearance of the dead, provided that appearance 
prove to be an objective phenomenon, and provided we 
do not misconceive its character, is of the highest grade. 
If it be important, then, to obtain a valuable contribu- 
tion to the proofs of the soul's immortality, what more 
worthy of our attention than the subject of apparitions? 

But in proportion to its importance and to its extra- 
ordinary character is the urgent propriety that it be 
scrupulously, even distrustfully, examined, and that its 
reality be tested with dispassionate care. 

For its discussion involves the theory of hallucination; 
a branch of inquiry which has much engaged, as indeed 
it ought, the attention of modern physiologists. 

That pure hallucinations occur, we cannot rationally 
doubt; but what are, and what are not, hallucinations, it 
may be more difficult to determine than superficial ob- 
servers are wont to imagine. 

Hallucination, according to the usual definition, con- 
sists of ideas and sensations conveying unreal impres- 
sions. It is an example of false testimony (not al- 
wa3^s credited) apparently given by the senses in a dis- 
eased or abnormal state of the human organization. 



^'It is evident," says Calmeil, "that if the same mate- 
rial combination which takes place in the brain of a 
man at the sight of a tree, of a dog, of a horse, is capa- 
ble of being reproduced at a moment when these objects 
are no longer within sight, then that man will persist in 
believing that he still sees a horse, a dog, or a tree/"^ 

It is a curious question, not yet fully settled by medi- 
cal writers on the subject, whether hallucinations of the 
sight cause an actual image on the retina. Burdach^ 
Muller,f Baillarger,t and others, who maintain the affirm- 
ative, remind us that patients who have recovered 
from an attack of hallucination always say, 'I saw; I 
heard;' thus speaking as of actual sensations. Decham- 
bre§ and De Boismont, who assume the negative, adduce 
in support of their opinion the facts that a patient who 
has lost his leg will still complain of cold or pain in the 
toes of the amputated foot, and that men blind from 
amaurosis, where there is paralysis of the optic nerve, 
are still subject to visual hallucinations. The latter 
seems the better opinion. How can a mere mental con- 
ception (as Dechambre has argued) produce an image 
in the eye? And to what purpose? For, if the concep- 
tion is already existing in the brain, what need of the 
eye to convey it thither? If it could be proved, in any 
given case, that a real image had been produced on the 
surface of the retina, it would, I think, go far to prove, 

* "De la Folie," vol. i. p. 113. - 

f I have not access to the German originals; but both Burdach and 
Miilier have been translated into French by Jourdain ; see Burdach'a 
" Traite de Physiolofjie," Paris, 1839, vol. v. p. 206, and Miiller's "Manuel 
de Physiologie," Paris, 1845, vol. ii. p. 686. 

J Baillarger; " Dee Hallucinationa, d^.," ipuhUshed in the " Memoirea de 
V Academic Royale de 3Jedecine," vol. xii. p. 369. 

^ Dechambre's "Analyse de VOuvraye du Doctenr Szafkowsld aiir Ice Hallu- 
cinations," published in the " Gazette Medicale" for 1850, p. 274. 

I am indebted to De Boismont for most of these references. See his 
work, "Dea Hallucinationa," Paris, 1852, chap. 16. 


also, that an objective reality must have been present 
to produce it. And so also of sonorous undulations 
actually received by the tympanum. 

This will more clearly appear if we take instances of 
hallucination of other senses, — as of smell and touch. 
Professor Bennett, of Scotland, in a pamphlet against 
Mesmerism,* vouches for two examples adduced by him 
to prove the power of imagination. He rekites the first 
as follows: — "A clergyman told me that, some time ago, 
suspicions were entertained in his parish of a woman 
who was supposed to have poisoned her newly-born in- 
fant. The coffin was exhumed, and the procurator- 
fiscal, who attended with the medical men to examine 
the body, declared that he already perceived the odor 
of decom20osition, which made him feel faint; and, in 
consequence, he withdrew. But on opening the coffin 
it was found to be empty; and it was afterward ascer- 
tained that no child had been born, and, consequent!}', no 
murder committed." Are we to suppose that the olfac- 
tory nerve was acted upon by an odor when the odor 
was not there? But here is the other case, from the 
same pamphlet. '^ A butcher was brought into the shop 
of Mr. McFarlane, the druggist, from the market-place 
opposite, laboring under a terrible accident. The man, 
in trying to hook up a heavy piece of meat above his 
head, slipped, and the sharp hook penetrated his arm, 
so that he himself was suspended. On being examined, 
he was pale, almost pulseless, and expressed himself as 
suffering acute agon3\ The arm could not be moved 
without causing excessive pain, and in cutting off the 
sleeve he frequently cried out; yet when the arm was 
exposed it was found to be perfectly uninjured, the hook 
having only traversed the sleeve of bis coat I" What 
acted, in this case, on the nerves of sensation? There 

■» ''The Mesmeric Mania o/1851," Edinburgh, 1851. 
tJ 26* 


was not the slightest lesion to do this; yet the effect on 
the brain was exactly the same as if these nerves had 
been actually irritated, and that, too, in the most serious 

The senses which most frequently seem to delude 
us are sight and hearing. Dr. Carpenter mentions the 
case of a lady, a near relative of his, who, "having been 
frightened in childhood by a black cat which sprang up 
from beneath her pillow just as she was laying her head 
upon it, was accustomed for many years afterward, when- 
ever she was at all indisposed, to see a black cat on the 
ground before her; and, although perfectly aware of the 
spectral character of the appearance, yet she could never 
avoid lifting her foot as if to stej) over the cat when it 
appeared to be lying in her path."* Another lady, 
mentioned by Calmeil, continued, for upward of ten 
years, to imagine that a multitude of birds were con- 
stantly on the wing, flying close to her head; and she 
never sat down to dinner without setting aside crumbs 
of bread for her visionary attendants.f 

So of auditory hallucinations, where the sense of hear- 
ing appears to play us false. AYriters on the subject 
record the cases of patients who have been pursued for 
3^ears, or through life, by unknown voices, sounds of 
bells, strains of music, hissing, barking, and the like. 
In many cases the sounds seemed, to the hallucinated, 
to proceed from tombs, from caverns, from beneath the 
ground; sometimes the voice was imagined to be inter- 
nal, as from the breast or other portions of the body. J 

* "Principles of Human Physioloijij," 5th ed., London, 1855, p. 564. 

f Calmeil, vol. i. p. 11. I do not cite more apocryphal cases, as when 
Pic, in his life of the noted Benedictine Savonarola, tells us that the Holy 
Ghost, on several occasions, lit on the shoulders of the pious monk, who 
was lost in admiration of its golden plumage; and that when the divine 
Inrd introduced its beak into his ear he heard a murmur of a most peculiar 
description. — /. F. Pie, in Vita Savonarolce, p. 124. 

J Calmeil, work cited, vol. i. p. 8. 


Calmeil relates the example of an aged coartier \y1io 
imagiriiiig that he heard rivals continually defaming 
him in presence of his sovereign, used constantly to ex- 
clainij "They lie! 3'ou are deceived! I am calumniated, 
my prince."''' And he mentions the case of another 
monomaniac who could not, without a fit of rage, hear 
pronounced the name of a town which recalled to him 
painful recollections. Children at the breast, the birds 
of the air, bells from every clock-tower, repeated, to his 
diseased hearing, the detested name. 

These all appear to be cases of simple hallucination; 
against which, it may be remarked, perfect soundness 
of mind is no guarantee. Hallucination is not insanity. 
It is found, sometimes, disconnected not only from in- 
sanity, but from monomania in its mildest type. I 
knew well a lady who. more than once, distinctly saw 
feet ascending the stairs before her. Yet neither her 
physician nor she herself ever regarded this apparent 
marvel in other light than as an optical vagary de- 
pendent on her state of health. 

In each of the eases above cited, it Avill be remarked 
that one person only was misled by deception of 
sense. And this brings me to speak of an important 
distinction made by the best writers on this subject: 
the dilference, namely, between hallucination and illu- 
sion : the former being held to mean a false perception 
of that which has no existence whatever; the latter, an 
incorrect perception of something which actually exists. 
The lady who raised her foot to step over a black cat, 
when, in point of fact, there was nothing there to step 
over, is deemed to be the victim of a hallucination. 
Nicolai, the Berlin bookseller, is usually cited as one of 
the most noted cases; and his memoir on the subject, 
addressed to the Royal Society of Berlin, of which he 

* Calmeil, work cited, vol i. p. 7. 


was a member, is given as a rare example of 2:)hiloso- 
pliieal aiul careful analysis of what he himself regarded 
as a series of false sensations.* He imagined (so he re- 
lates) that his room was full of human figures, moving 
about; all the exact counterpart of living persons, ex- 
cept that they were somewhat paler; some known to 
him, some strangers; who occasionally spoke to each 
other and to him; so that at times he was in doubt 
whether or not some of his friends had come to visit him. 
An illusion, unlike a hallucination, has a foundation 
in reality. We actually see or hear something, which 
we mistake for something else.f The mirage of the 
Desert, the Fata Morgana of the Mediterranean, are 
well-known examples. Many superstitions hence take 
their rise. Witness the Giant of the Brocken, aerial 
armies contending in the clouds, and the like. J 

* Nicolai read his memoir on tho subject of the specters or phantoms 
which disturbed him, with psychological remarks thereon, to the Royal 
Society of Berlin, on the 28th of February, 1799. The translation of this 
paper is given in JS^ichoJsoii's Journal, vol. vi. p. 161. 

f In actual mania, hallucinations are commonly set down as much more 
frequent than illusions. De Boismont mentions that, out of one hundred 
and eighty-one cases of mania observed by Messrs. Aubanel and Thore, 
illusions showed themselves in sixteen instances, while hallucination 
supervened in fiftj-four. The exact list was as follows: Illusions of sight, 
nine; of hearing, seven; hallucinations oi hearing, twenty-three; of sight, 
twenty-one; of taste, five; of touch, two; of smell, one; internal, two. — 
"Dcs Hallucinations," p. 168. 

X In the "Philosophical Magazine" (vol. i. p. 232) will be found a 
record of the observations which finally' ex})lained to the scientific world 
the nature of the gigantic appearance which, from the summit of the 
Brocken, (one of the Hartz Mountains,) for long years excited the wonder- 
ing credulity of the inhabitants and the astonishment of the passing 
traveler. A Mr. Haue devoted some time to this subject. One day, while 
he was contemplating the giant, a violent puflf of wind was on the point 
of carrying off his hat. Suddenly clapping his hand upon it, the giant did 
the same. Mr. Ilaue bowed to him, and the salute was returned. He then 
called the proprietor of the neighboring inn and imparted to him his dis- 
covery. The experiments were renewed with the same effect. It became 
evident that the appearance was but an optical effect produced by a strongly 


There arc collective illusions; for it is evident that 
the same false ap])carance which deceives the senses of 
one man is not unlikely to deceive those of others also. 
Thus, an Italian historian relates that the inhabitants 
of the city of Florence were for several hours the dupes 
of a remarkable deception. There was seen, in the air, 
floating above the city, the colossal figure of an angel; 
and groups of spectators, gathered together in the 
princijDal streets, gazed in adoration, convinced that 
some miracle was about to take place. After a time it 
was discovered that this portentous appearance was but 
a simple optical illusion, caused by the reflection, on 
the cloud, of the figure of the gilded angel which sur- 
mounts the celebrated Duomo, brightly illuminated by 
the rays of the sun. 

But I know of no well-authenticated instance of col- 
lective hallucinations. jSTo two patients that I ever 
heard of imagined the presence of the same cat or dog 
at the same moment. None of JSTicolai's friends per- 
ceived the figures which showed themselves to him. 
When Brutus's evil genius appeared to the Eoman 
leader, no one but himself saw the colossal presence or 
heard the warning words, " We shall meet again at 
Philippi.'^ It was jSTero's eyes alone that Avere haunted 
w^ith the specter of his murdered mother."^ 

illuminated body placed amid light clouds, reflected from a considerable 
distance, and magnified till it appeared five or six hundred feet in height. 

In Westmoreland and other mountainous countries the peasants often 
imagine that they see in the clouds troops of cavalry and armies on the 
march, — when, in point of fact, it is but the reflection of horses pasturing 
on a hill-side, and peaceful travelers or laborers passing over the land- 

-•• There is no proof that the appearances -which presented themselves to 
Nicolai, to Brutus, and to Nero were other than mere hallucinations: yet, 
if it should appear that apparitions, whether of the living or the dead, arc 
sometimes of objective character, we are assuming too much when we 
receive it as certain that nothing appeared to either of these men. 


This is II distinction of much practical importance. 
If two persons perceive at tlie same time the same 
phenomenon, we may conclude that that phenomenon 
is an objective reality, — has, in some phase or other, 
actual existence. 

The results of what have been usually called electro- 
biological experiments cannot with any propriety be 
adduced in confutation of this position. The biolo- 
gized patient knowingly and voluntarily subjects him- 
self to an artificial influence, of which the temporary 
eifect is to produce false sensations; just as the eater 
of hasheesh, or the chewer of opium, conjures up the 
phantasmagoria of a partial insanity, or the confirmed 
drunkard exposes himself to the terrible delusions of 
delirium-tremens. But all these sufl^erers know, when 
the fit has passed, that there was nothing of reality in 
the imaginations that overcame them. 

If we could be biologized without ostensible agency, 
in a seemingly normal and quiet state of mind and body, 
unconsciously to ourselves at the time, and without any 
subsequent conviction of our trance-like condition, then 
would Eeason herself cease to be trustworthy, our very 
senses become blind guides, and men would but grope 
about in the mists of Pyrrhonism. Nothing in the 
economj" of the universe, so far as we have explored it, 
allows us for a moment to entertain the idea that its 
Creator has permitted, or will ever permit, such a source 
of delusion. 

We are justified in asserting, then, as a general rule, 
that what the senses of two or more persons perceive 
at the same time is not a hallucination; in other words, 
that there is some foundation for it. 

But it docs not follow that the converse of the pro- 
position is true. It is not logical to conclude that, in 
every instance in which some strange appearance can 
be perceived by one observer only among many, it is a 

reichenbach's experiments. 311 

hallucination. In some cases where certain persons per- 
ceive phenomena which escape the senses of others, it is 
certain that the phenomena are, or may bo, real. An 
every-day example of this is the fact that persons en- 
dowed with strong power of distant vision clearly dis- 
tinguish objects which are invisible to the short-sighted. 
Again, Eeichenbach reports that his sensitives saw, at 
the poles of the magnet, odic light, and felt, from the 
near contact of large free cystals, odic sensations, which 
by Eeichenbach himself, and others as insensible to odic 
impressions as he, were utterly unperceived.* It is true 
that before such experiments can rationally produce 
conviction they must be repeated again and again, by 
various observers and with numerous subjects, each 
subject unknowing the testimony of the preceding, and 
the result of these various experiments must be care- 
fully collated and compared. But, these precautions 
scrupulously taken, there is nothing in the nature of the 
experiments themselves to cause them to be set aside as 

There is nothing, then, absurd or illogical in the sup- 
position that some persons may have true perceptions 
of which we are unconscious. \Ye may not be able to 
comprehend how they receive these ; but our ignorance 
of the mode of action does not disprove the reality of 
the effect. I knew an English gentleman who, if a cat 
had been secreted in a room where he was, invariably 
and infallibly detected her presence. How he perceived 
this, except by a general feeling of uneasiness, he could 
never explain; yet the fact was certain. 

* Reichenbach, in liis "Sensitive Mensfh," (vol. i. p. 1,) estimates the num- 
ber of sensitives, including all who have any perception whatever of odic 
sights and feelings, at nearly one-half the human race. Cases of high 
sensitiveness are, he says, most commonly found in the diseased; some- 
times, however, in the healthy. In both he considers them comparatively 


If we Avcre nil born deaf and dumb, ayc could not 
imagine how a human being should be able to perceive 
that a person he did not see was in an adjoining room, 
or how he could possibly become conscious that a town- 
clock, a mile olf and wholly out of sight, was half an 
hour faster than the watch in his pocket. If to a deaf- 
mute, congenitally such, we say, in explanation, that we 
know these things because we hear the sound of the 
person's voice and of the clock striking, the words are 
to him w^ithout significance. They explain to him 
nothing. lie believes that there is a perception which 
those around him call hearing, because they all agree in 
informing him of this. He believes that, under par- 
ticular circumstances, they do become conscious of the 
distant and the unseen. But, if his infirmity continue 
till death, he will pass to another world with no con- 
viction of the reality of hearing save that belief alone, 
nnsustained. except by the evidence of testimony. 

What presumj^tion is there against the supposition 
that, as there are exceptional cases in which some of 
our fellow-creatures are inferior to us in the range of 
their perceptions, there r^ay be exceptional cases also 
in which some of them are superior ? And why may 
not we, like the life-long deaf-mute, have to await the 
enlightenment of death before we can receive as true, 
except by faith in others' words, the allegations touch- 
ing these superior perceptions ? 

There is, it is true, bet-ween the case of the deaf-mute 
and ours this difference: he is in the minority, we in 
the majority : his witnesses, therefore, are much more 
numerous than ours. But the question remains, are our 
witnesses, occasional only though they be, sufficient in 
number and in credibility? 

That question, so far as it regards what are commonly 
called apparitions, it is my object in the next chapter to 


Before doing so, however, one or two remarks touch- 
ing current objections may here be in place. 

It has usually been taken for granted that, if medicine 
shall have removed a perception, it was unreal. This 
does not follow. An actual perception may, for aught 
we know, depend on a peculiar state of the nervous 
system, and may be possible during that state only ; and 
that state may be changed or modified by drugs. Our 
senses frequently are, for a time, so influenced ; the sense 
of sight, for example, by belladonna. I found in England 
several ladies, all in the most respectable class of society, 
who have had, to a greater or less extent, the perception 
of apparitions; though they do not Sf)eak of this faculty 
or delusion (let the reader select either term) beyond 
the circle of their immediate friends. One of these 
ladies, in whose case the perception has existed from 
early infancy, informed me that it was suspended by in- 
disposition, even by a severe cold. In this case, any 
medicine which removed the disease restored the per- 

Some writers have attempted to show that hallucina- 
tion is epidemical, like the plague or the small-pox. If 
this be true at all, it is to an extent so trifling and under 
circumstances so peculiar that it can only be regarded 
as a rare exception to a general rule.* De Gasparin 

* I find in De Boismont's elaborate work on Hallucinations but a single 
example detailed of what may be regarded as a collective hallucination, 
and that given (p. 72) on the authority of Bovet, and taken from his 
"Pandemonium, or The Devil's CZoysfer," published in 1684, (p. 202;) not 
the most conclusive evidence, certainly. It is, besides, but the case of two 
men alleged to have seen, at the same time, the same apparition of certain 
richly-dressed ladies. But one of these men was at the time in a stupor, 
apparently suffering from nightmare, and did not speak of the vision at all 
until it was suggested to him by the other. We know, however, that sug- 
gestions made to a sleeping man sometimes influence his dreams. (See 
Abercrombie's "Intellectual Poicers," 15th ed., London, 1857, pp. 202, 203.) 
A case cited and vouched for by Dr. Wigan {"Duality of the Mind," Lou. 



seeks to prove the contrary of this* by reminding us 
that in Egypt, in the time of Justinian, all the ^Yorld is 
said to have seen black men without heads sailing in 
brazen barks; that during an epidemic that once de- 
populated Constantinople the inhabitants saw demons 
passing along the streets from house to house, dealing 
death as they passed; that Thucydides speaks of a 
general invasion of specters which accompanied the 
great plague at Athens; that Pliny relates how, during 
the war of the Eomans against the Cimbrians, the clash 
of arms and the sound of trumpets were heard, as if 
coming from the sky; that Pausanias writes that, long 
after the action at Marathon, there w^ere heard each 
night on the field of battle the neighing of horses and 
the shock of armies; that at the battle of Platsea the 
heavens resounded with fearful cries, ascribed by the 
Athenians to the god Pan ; and so on. 

Of these appearances some were clearly illusions, not 
hallucinations; and as to the rest, M. de Gasparin is too 
sensible a writer not to admit that "many of these 
anecdotes are false and many are exaggerated.^f For 
myself, it would be almost as easy to convince me, on 
the faith of a remote legend, that these marvelous 
sights and sounds had actually existed, as that large 
numbers of men concurred in the conviction that they 

don, 1844, pp. 166 et seq.) does not prove that hallucination may be of a 
collective character, though sometimes adduced to prove it. 

Writers who believe in second-sight (as Martin, in his " Deacription of 
the Western Islands of Scotland") allege that if two men, gifted Avith that 
faculty, be standing together, and one of them, perceiving a vision, design- 
edly touch the other, he also will perceive it. But we have no better evi- 
dence for this than for the reality of the faculty in question. And if second- 
sight be a real phenomenon, then such seers are not deceived by a halhi- 

* " Des Tables Tournanfcs, du Surnaturel en General, ct des Esprlta," par 
le Comte Agenor de Gasparin, Paris, 1855, vol. i. pp. 537 et seq. 

t De Gasparin's work already cited, vol. i. p. 538, 


saw and heard them. The very details whicn accom- 
pany many of them suffice to discredit the idea they are 
adduced to prove. In the relation of Pausanias, for 
example, touching the nightly noises on the battle-field 
of Marathon, we read that those who were attracted to 
the spot by curiosity heard them not : it was to the 
chance traveler only, crossing the haunted spot without 
premeditation, that the phantom horses neighed and 
the din of arms resounded. Imagination or expectation, 
it would seem, had nothing to do with it. It was a 
local phenomenon. Can we believe it to have been a 
perversion of the sense of hearing? If we do, we 
admit that hallucination may be endemic as well as 

I would not be understood as denying that there have 
been times and seasons during which instances of hallu- 
cination have increased in frequency beyond the usual 
rate. That which violently excites the mind often re- 
acts morbidly on the senses. But this does not prove 
the position I am combating. The reaction consequent 
upon the failure of the first French Revolution, together 
with the horrors of the reign of terror, so agitated and 
depressed the minds of many, that in France suicides 
became frequent beyond all previous example. Yet it 
would be a novel doctrine to assert that suicide is of a 
contagious or epidemical character. 

De Boismont reminds us that considerable assemblages 
of men (" des reunions considerables") have been the dupes 
of the same illusions. " A cry," he says, " suffices to affright 
a multitude. An individual who thinks he sees some- 
thing supernatural soon causes others, as little en- 
lightened as he, to share his conviction."* As to illu- 
sions, both optical and oral, this is undoubtedly true; 
more especially when these present themselves in times 

* "i>c« Hallucinations," p. 128. 


of excitement, — as diirino- a battle or a plague, — or when 
they are generated in twilight gloom or midnight dark- 
ness. But that the contagion of example, or the belief 
of one individual under the actual influence of halluci- 
nation, sufiices to produce, in others around, disease of 
the retina or of the optic or auditory nerve, or, in 
short, any abnormal condition of the senses, is a suppo- 
sition which, so far as my reading extends, is unsup- 
ported by any reliable proof whatever. 

The hypothesis of hallucination, then, is, in a general 
way, untenable in cases where two or more independent 
observers perceive the same or a similar appearance. 
But, since we know that hallucination does occur, that 
hypothesis may, in cases where there is but a single 
observer, be regarded as the more natural one, to be 
rebutted only by such attendant circumstances as are 
not explicable except by supposing the appearance real. 

Bearing with us these considerations, let us now 
endeavor to separate, in this matter, the fanciful from 
the real. In so doing, we may find it difficult to pre- 
serve the just mean between too ready admission and 
too strenuous unbelief. If the reader be tempted to sus- 
pect in me easy credulity, let him beware on his part of 
arrogant prejudgment. " Contempt before inquiry," 
says Paley, " is fatal." Discarding alike prejudice and 
superstition, adopting the inductive method, let us seek 
to determine whether, even if a large portion of the 
thousand legends of ghosts and apparitions that have 
w^on credence in every age be due to hallucination, 
there be not another portion — the records of genuine 
phenomena — observed by credible witnesses and attested 
by sufiicient proof. 



When, in studying the subject of apparitions, I first 
met an alleged example of the appearance of a living per- 
son at a distance from where that person actually was, 
I gave to it little weight. And this the rather because 
the example itself was not sufficiently attested. It is 
related and believed by Jung Stilling as having occurred 
about the years 1750 to 1760, and is to this effect. 

There lived at that time, near Philadelphia, in a 
lonely house and in a retired manner, a man of benevo- 
lent and pious character, but suspected to have some 
occult power of disclosing hidden events. It happened 
that a certain sea-captain having been long absent and 
no letter received from him, his wife, who lived near 
this man, and who had become alarmed and anxious, 
was advised to consult him. Having heard her story, 
he bade her wait a little and he would bring her an 
answer. Thereupon he went into another room, shut- 
ting the door; and there he stayed so long that, moved 
by curiosity, she looked through an aperture in the 
door to ascertain Avhat he was about. Seeing him lying 
motionless on a sofa, she quickly returned to her place. 
Soon after, he came out, and told the woman that her 
husband was at that time in London, in a certain coffee- 
house which he named, and that he would soon return. 
He also stated the reasons why his return had been de- 
layed and why he had not written to her ; and she went 
home somewhat reassured. When her husband did re- 
turn, they found, on comparing notes, that every thing 

27* 317 

318 stilltng's story. 

she had been told was exactly true. But the strangest 
part of the story remains. When she took her husband 
to see the alleged seer, he started back in surprise, and 
afterward confessed to his wife that, on a certain day, 
(the same on which she had consulted the person in 
question,) he was in a coffee-house in London, (the same 
that had been named to her,) and that this very man had 
there accosted him, and had told him that his wife was 
in great anxiety about him; that then the sea-captain 
had replied informing the stranger why his return was 
delayed and why he had not written, whereupon the 
man turned away, and he lost sight of him in the 

This story, however, came to Stilling through several 
hands, and is very loosely authenticated. It was brought 
from America by a German who had emigrated to the 
United States, and had been many years manager of 
some mills on the Delaware. He related it, on his re- 
turn to Germany, to a friend of Stilling' s, from whom 
Stilling had it. But no names nor exact dates are given ; 
and it is not even stated whether the German emigrant 
obtained the incident directly either from the sea-captain 
or his wife. 

It is evident that such a narrative, coming to us with 
no better vouchers than these, (though we may admit 
Stilling's entire good faith,) cannot rationally be accepted 
as authority. 

Yet it is to be remarked that, in its incidents, the 
above story is but little more remarkable than the 
Joseph Wilkins dream or the case of Mary Goife, both 
already given in the chapter on Dreams. If true, it evi- 
dently belongs to the same class, with this variation : 
that the phenomena in the two cases referred to occurred 
spontaneously, whereas, according to the Stilling narra- 

*■ " Theorie dcr Geifiierkuncle," vol. iv. of Stilling's " Sdmvith'cJie Werkc" 
pp. 501 to 503. I have somewhat abridged in translating it. 


tive, they were called up by the will of the subject and 
could be reproduced at pleasure. 

The next narrative I am enabled to give as perfectly 


There was living, in the summer of the year 1802, in 
the south of Ireland, a clergyman of the Established 

Church, the Eev. Mr. , afterward Archdeacon of 

, now deceased. His first wife, a woman of great 

beauty, sister of the Governor of , Avas then alive. 

She had been recently confined, and her recovery was 
very slow. Their residence — an old-fashioned mansion, 
situated in a spacious garden — adjoined on one side the 

park of the Bishop of . It was separated from it 

by a wall, in which there was a private door. 

Mr. had been invited by the bishop to dinner; 

and as his wife, though confined to bed, did not seem 
worse than usual, he had accepted the invitation, lie- 
turning from the bishop's palace about ten o'clock, he 
entered, by the private door alread}'' mentioned, his own 
premises. It was bright moonlight. On issuing from a 
small belt of shrubbery into a garden walk, he per- 
ceived, as he thought, in another walk, parallel to that 
in which he was, and not more than ten or twelve feet 
from him, the figure of his wife, in her usual dress. Ex- 
ceedingly astonished, he crossed over and confronted her. 
It icas his wife. At least, he distinguished her features, 
in the clear moonlight, as plainly as he had ever done in 
his life. " What are you doing here V he asked. She 
did not reply, but receded from him, turning to the 
right, toward a kitchen-garden that lay on one side of 
the house. In it there were several rows of peas, staked 
and well grown, so as to shelter any person passing be- 
hind them. The figure passed round one end of these. 
Mr. followed quickly, in increased astonishment, 

320 THE son's testimony. 

mingled with alarm; but when he reached the open 
space beyond the peas the figure was nowhere to be 
seen. As there w^as no spot w^here, in so short a time, 
it could have sought concealment, the husband con- 
cluded that it was an apparition, and not his wife, that 
he had seen. He returned to the front door, and, in- 
stead of availing himself of his pass-key as usual, he 
rung the bell. While on the steps, before the bell was 
answered, looking round, he saw the same figure at the 
corner of the house. When the servant opened the door, 
he asked him how" his mistress was. " I am sorry to 
say, sir," answered the man, '' she is not so well. Dr. 

Osborne has been sent for." Mr. hurried up-stairs, 

found his Avife in bed and much worse, attended by the 
nurse, who had not left her all the evening. From that 
time she gradually sank, and within twelve hours there- 
after expired. 

The above was communicated to me by Mr. , now 

of Canada, son of the archdeacon.* He had so often 
heard his ftither narrate the incident that every par- 
ticular was minutely imprinted on his memory. I in- 
quired of him if his father had ever stated to him whe- 
ther, during his absence at the bishop's, his wife had 
slept, or had been observed to be in a state of swoon or 
trance; but he could afford me no information on that 
subject. It is to be regretted that this had not been 
observed and recorded. The wife knew where her hus- 
band V7iis and by wdiat route he would return. We may 
imagine, but cannot prove, that this was a case similar 
to tliat of Mary Goffo, — the appearance of the wife, as 
of the mother, showing itself where her thoughts and 
affections were. 

The following narrative I owe to the kindness of a 

*- On the 1st of June, 1859. 


friend, Mi'S. D , now of Washington, the daughter 

of a "Western clergyman of well-known reputation, re- 
"* cently deceased. 


" I resided for several years in a spacious old stone 
house, two stories high, agreeably situated, amid fruit- 
trees and shrubbery, on the banks of the Ohio Eiver, 
in Switzerland County, Indiana. Two verandas, 
above and below, w^ith outside stairs leading up to 
them, ran the entire length of the house on the side 
next the river. These, especially the upper one with 
its charming prospect, were a common resort of the 

" On the 15th of September, 1845, my younger sister, 

J , was married, and came with her husband, Mr. 

H M , to pass a portion of the honeymoon in 

our pleasant retreat. 

"On the 18th of the same month, we all went, by 
invitation, to spend the day at a friend's house about a 
mile distant. As twilight came on, finding my two 
little ones growing restless, we decided to return home. 
After waiting some time for my sister's husband, who 
had gone off to pay a visit in a neighboring village, 
saying he would soon return, we set out ■without him. 
Arrived at home, my sister, "who occupied an upper 
room, telling me she would go and change her walking- 
dress, proceeded up-stairs, while I remained below *to 
see my drowsy babes safe in bed. The moon, I remem- 
ber, was shining brightly at the time. 

" Suddenly, after a minute or two, my sister burst 

into the room, wringing her hands in despair, and 

weeping bitterly. 'Oh, sister, sister!' she exclaimed; 

'I shall lose him I I know I shall! Hugh is going to die.' 

In the greatest astonishment, I inquired what was the 

o22 THE bride's terror. 

matter; and then, between sobs, she related to me the 
cause of her ahxrm, as follows : — 

"As she ran up-stairs to their room she saw her hus- 
band seated at the extremity of the upper veranda, 
his hat on, a cigar in his mouth, and his feet on the 
railing, apparently enjoying the cool river-breeze. 
Supposing, of course, that he had returned before we 
did, she approached hioi, saying, 'AYhy, Hugh, when 
did you get here? Why did you not return and come 
home with us?' As he made no reply, she went up to 
him, and, bride-like, was about to put her arms round 
his neck, when, to her horror, the figure was gone and 
the chair empty. She had barely strength left (so 
great was the shock) to come down-stairs and relate to 
me what her excited fears construed into a certain pre- 
sage of death. 

" It was not till more than two hours afterward, 
when my brother-in-law actually returned, that she re- 
sumed her tranquillity. We rallied and laughed at her 
then, and, after a time, the incident passed from our 

"Previously to this, however, — namely, about an hour 
before Hugh's return, — while we were sitting in the 
parlor, on the lower floor, I saw a boy, some sixteen 
years of age, look in at the door of the room. It was 
a lad whom my husband employed to work in the 
garden and about the house, and who, in his leisure 
hours, used to take great, delight in amusing my little 
son Frank, of whom he was very fond. He was 
dressed, as was his wont, in a suit of blue summer- 
cloth, with an old palm-leaf hat without a band, and he 
advanced, in his usual bashful way, a step or two into 
the room, then stopped, and looked round, apparently in 
search of something. Supposing that he was looking 
for the children, I said to him, 'Frank is in bed, Silas, 
and asleep long ago.' He did not reply, but, turning 

SILAS. 323 

with a quiet smile that was common to him, left the 
room, and I noticed, from the window, that he lingered 
near the outside door, Avalking backward and forward 
before it once or twice. If I had afterward been re- 
quired to depose, on oath, before a court of justice, that 
I had seen the boy enter and leave the room, and also 
that I had noticed him pass and repass before the parlor- 
window, I should have sworn to these circumstances 
without a moment's hesitation. Yet it would seem that 
such a deposition would have conveyed a false im- 

" For, shortly after, my husband, coming in, said^ ^ I 
wonder where Silas is?' (that was the boy's name.) 

" 'He must be somewhere about,' 1 replied: 'he was 
here a few minutes since, and I spoke to him.' There- 
upon Mr. D went out and called him, but no one 

answered. He sought him all over the premises, then 
in his room, but in vain. JN^o Silas was to be found ; 
nor did he show himself that night; nor was he in the 
house the next morning when we arose. 

''At breakfast he first made his appearance. 'Where 
have you been, Silas?' said Mr. D . 

"The boy replied that he had been 'up to the island, 

" ' But,' I said, ' you were here last night.' 

"'Oh, no,' he replied, with the simple accent of truth. 

' Mr. D gave me leave to go fishing yesterday; and 

I understood I need not return till this mornino; : so I 
stayed away all night. I have not been near here since 
yesterday morning.' 

" I could not doubt the lad's word. He had no 
motive for deceiving us. The island of which he spoke 
was two miles distant from our house; and, under all 
the circumstances, I settled doAvn to the conclusion 
that as, in my sister's case, her husband had appeared 
where he was not, so in the case of the boy also it 


was the appearance only, not the real person, that I 
had seen that evenino*. It was remarkable enoiiirh 
that both the incidents should have occurred in the 
same house and on the same day. 

''It is proper I should add that my sister's im- 
pression that the apparition of her husband foreboded 
death did not prove true. He outlived her; and no 
misfortune which they could in any way connect with 
the appearance happened in the family. 

'' ]^or did Silas die; nor, so far as I know, did any 
thing unusual happen to hira.""^ 

This case is, in some respects, a strong one. There 
was evidently no connection between the appearance to 
the one sister and that to the other. There was no ex- 
citement preceding the apparitions. In each case, the 
evidence, so far as one sense went, was as strong as if 
the real person had been present. The narrator ex- 
pressly says she would unhesitatingly have sworn, in a 
court of justice, to the presence of the boy Silas. The 
sister addressed the appearance of her husband, unex- 
pected as it was, without doubt or hesitation. The 
theory of hallucination may account for both cases; but, 
whether it does or not, the phenomenon is one which 
ought to challenge the attention of the jurist as well as 
of the psychologist. If a^^pearances so exactly counter- 
feiting realit}^ as these can, occasionally, cheat human 
sense, their possible occurrence ought not to be ignored 
in laying down rules of evidence. The presumption, of 
course, is, in every case, very strongly against them. 
Yet cases have occurred in which an alibi, satisfactorily 
proved yet conflicting with seemingly unimpeachable 
evidence, has completely puzzled the courts. An ex- 
ample, related and vouched for by Mrs. Crowe, but witli- 

* Commuuicated to me, in Washington, June 24, 1859. 

THE surgeon's assistant. 325 

out adducing her authority, and which I have not myself 
verified, is, in suhstance, as follows : — 

In the latter part of the last century, in the city of 
Glasgow, Scotland, a servant-girl, known to have had 
illicit connection with a certain surgeon's apprentice, 
suddenly disappeared. There being no circumstances 
leading to suspicion of foul play, no special inquiry was 
made about her. 

In those days, in Scottish towns, no one was allowed 
to show himself in street or public ground during the 
hours of church-service; and this interdiction was en- 
forced by the appointment of inspectors, authorized to 
take down the names of delinquents. 

Two of these, making their rounds, came to a wall, 
the lower boundary of "■ The Green,'' as the chief public 
park of the city is called. There, lying on the grass, 
they saw a young man, whom they recognized as the 
surgeon's assistant. They asked him why he was not 
at church, and proceeded to register his name; but, in- 
stead of attempting an excuse, he merely rose, saying, 
^'I am a miserable man; look in the water!" then 
crossed a style and struck into a path leading to the 
Eutherglen road. The inspectors, astonished, did pro- 
ceed to the river, where they found the body of ayouno- 
woman, which they caused to be conveyed to town. 
"While they were accompanying it through the streets, 
they passed one of the principal churches, whence, at 
the moment, the congregation were issuing; and among 
them they perceived the apprentice. But this did not 
much surprise them, thinking he might have had time 
to go round and enter the church toward the close of 
the service. 

The body proved to be that of the missing servant- 
girl. She was found pregnant, and had evidently been 
murdered by means of a surgeon's instrument, which 
had remained entangled in her clothes. The apprentice, 



Avho proved to have been the last person seen in her 
company before she disappeared, was arrested, and 
"would, on the evidence of the inspectors, have been 
found guilty, had he not, on his trial, established an in- 
controvertible alibi; showing, beyoiid possible doubt, 
that he had been in church during the entire service. 
The young man was acquitted. The greatest excitement 
prevailed in the public mind at the time; but all efforts 
to obtain a natural explanation failed.* 

If this story can be trusted, it is conclusive of the 
question. Both inspectors saw, or believed they saw, 
the same person; a person of whom they were not in 
search and whom they did not expect to find there. Both 
heard the same words; and these words directed them 
to the river, and were the cause of their finding the 
dead body; the body, too, of a girl with whom the ap- 
prentice had been on the most intimate and suspicious 
terms, whether he was her murderer or not. When did 
hallucination lead to such a discovery as that? 

In the next case, if it be one of hallucination, two 
senses were deceived. 


During the winter of 1839-40, Dr. J E was 

residing, with his aunt Mrs. L , in a house on Four- 
teenth Street, near New York Avenue, in the city of 

Ascending one day from the basement of the house 
to the parlor, he saw his aunt descending the stairs. 
He stepped back to let her pass, which she did, close to 
him, but without speaking. He instantly ascended the 
stairs and entered the parlor, where he found his aunt 
sitting quietly by the side of the fire. 

* "Night Side of Nature," by Catherine Crowo, 16th ed., Loudon, 1854, 
pp. 183 to 186. 

]}Y TWO SENSES. 327 

Tlie distance from where he first saw the figure to the 
sj)Ot where his aunt was actually sitting was between 
thirty and forty feet. The figure seemed dressed exactly 
as his aunt was; and he distinctly heard the rustle of 
her dress as she passed. 

As the figure, when descending the stairs and passing 
Dr. E -, bore the very same appearance as a real per- 
son, and as the circumstance occurred in broad daylight, 

Dr. E Ions: thou2;ht that, if not a mere hallucina- 

tion, it might augur death; but nothing happened to 
justify his anticipations.* 

The next example is of a much more conclusive cha- 
racter than any of the foregoing, if we except the nar- 
rative of Mrs. Crowe. 


Seen by Mother and Daughter. 
In the month of May and in the year 1840, Dr. D- 

a noted physician of Washington, w^is residing Avith his 

v\ife and his daughter Sarah (now Mrs. B ) at their 

country-seat, near Piuey Point, in Virginia, a fashionable 
pleasure-resort during the summer months. 

One afternoon, about five o'clock, the two ladies were 
walking out in a copse- wood not far from their residence; 
w^hen, at a distance on the road, coming tow^ard them, 

they saw a gentleman. " Sally," said Mrs. D , '' there 

comes your father to meet us." "I think not,"' the 
daughter replied: "that cannot be j^apa: it is not so 
tall as he." 

As he neared them, the daughter's opinion was con- 
firmed. They perceived that it was not Dr. D , but 

a Mr. Thompson, a gentleman with whom they were well 

* The above was related to me by Dr. E himself, in Washington, on 

the 5th of July, 1859 ; and the MS. was submitted to him for revision. 


acquainted, and who was at that time, though they then 

knew it not, a patient of Dr. D 's. They observed 

also, as he came nearer, that he was dressed in a blue 
frock-coat, black satin waistcoat, and black pantaloons 
and hat. Also, on comparing notes afterward, both 
ladies, it appeared, had noticed that his linen was par- 
ticularly line and that his w^hole apparel seemed to have 
been very carefully adjusted. 

He came up so close that they were on the very point 
of addressing him; but at that moment he stepped 
aside, as if to let them pass; and then, even while the 
eyes of both the ladies were upon him, he suddenly and en- 
tirely disappeared. 

The astonishment of Mrs. D and her daughter 

may be imagined. They could scarcely believe the evi- 
dence of their own eyes. They lingered, for a time, on 
the spot, as if expecting to see him reappear; then, with 
that strange feeling which comes over us when we have 
just witnessed something unexampled and incredible, 
they hastened home. 

They afterward ascertained, through Dr. D , that 

his patient Mr. Thompson, being seriously indisposed, 
was confined to his bed; and that he had not quitted his 
room, nor indeed his bed, throughout the entire day. 

It may properly be added that, though Mr. ThomjDson 
was familiarly known to the ladies and much resjDCcted 
by them as an estimable man, there were no reasons 
existing why they should lake any more interest in him, 
or he in them, than in the case of any other friend or 
acquaintance. lie died just six weeks from the day of 
this appearance. 

The above narrative is of unquestionable authenticity. 
It w^as communicated in Washington, in June, 1859, by 

Mrs. D herself; and the manuscript, being submitted 

to her for revision, was assented to as accurate. It 
had been frequently related, both by mother and daugh- 


ter, to the lady — a friend of theirs — who first brought it 
to my notice. 

What shall we say to it ? What element of authenti- 
city does it lack ? The facts are of comparatively re- 
cent occurrence. They are reported directly by the 
observers of the phenomenon. The circumstances pre- 
clude even the hypothesis of suggestion. The mother's 
remark to the daughter was, ^' There comes your 
ftither." The daughter dissents, remarking that it was 
a taller man. When the appearance approaches, both 
ladies distinguish the same person, and that so unmis- 
takably that they advance to meet him and speak to 
him, without the slightest mistrust. It was evidently 
an appearance seen independently by each of the ob- 

It was seen, too, in broad daylight, and under no ex- 
citement whatever. The ladies were enjoying a quiet 
afternoon's walk. There was no terror to blind, no 
anxiety of affection to conjure up (as skepticism might 
imagine it can) the phantom of the absent. The incideht 
is (as they suppose) of the most commonplace character. 
The gentleman whom they see advancing to meet them is 
an ordinary acquaintance, — ill at the time, it is true ; but 
even that fact is unknown to them. They both con- 
tinue to see him until he is within speaking-distance. 
Both observe his dress, even the minute particulars of 
it; so that on the senses of both precisely the same 
series of impressions is produced. They ascertain this 
by a subsequent comparison of their sensations. 

Nor do they lose sight of him in any doubtful way, 
or while their attention is distracted. He disappears 
before their eyes at the very moment they are about to 
address him. 

How strong in this case is the presumptive evidence 
against hallucination ! Even setting aside the received 
doctrine of the books, that there is no collective halluci- 



nation, how can we iinagino that there should be pro- 
duced, at the very same moment, without suggestion, or 
expectation, or unusual excitement of any kind, on the 
brain of two different persons, a perception of the self- 
same image, minutely detailed, without any external 
object to produce it? Was that image imprinted on the 
retina in the case both of mother and daughter ? How 
could this be if there was nothing existing in the out- 
side world to imprint it? Or was there no image on the 
retina ? Was it a purely subjective impression ? that is, 
a false perception, due to disease? But among the mil- 
lions of impressions wiiich may be produced, if imagina- 
tion only is the creative agent, how infinite the proba- 
bilities against the contingency that, out of these millions, 
this one especial object should present itself in two inde- 
pendent cases ! — not only a particular person, dressed in 
a particular manner, but that person advancing along a 
road, approaching within a few steps of the observers, 
and then disappearing ! Yet even this is not the limit 
of the adverse chances. There is not only identity of 
object, but exact coincidence of time. The two perceive 
the very same thing at the very same moment; and this 
coincidence continues throughout several minutes. 

What is the natural and necessary conclusion? That 
there loas an image produced on the retina, and that 
there was an objective reality there to produce it. 

It may seem marvelous, it may appear hard to be- 
lieve, that the appearance of a human being, in his 
usual dress, should present itself where that human 
being is not. It would be a thing a thousand times 
more marvelous, ten thousand times harder to believe, 
that the fortuitous action of disease, freely ranging 
throughout the infinite variety of contingent possibili- 
ties, should produce, by mere chance, a mass of coinci- 
dences such as make up, in this case, the concurrent and 
cotemporaneous sensations of mother and daughter. 

DR. donne's wife. 331 

I mio-ht here adduce an example which several writers 
have noticed; that, namely, of the apparition to Dr. 
Donne, in Paris, of iiis wife, with her hair hanging loose 
and a dead child in her arms, on the very day and at 
the very hour that she was delivered of a still-born child 
at Drewry House, the residence of Dr. Donne's patron, 
Sir Eobert Drewry, then ambassador at the Prench 
Court. It is related and vouched for by ^' honest Izaak,'' 
as his friends used to call the author of " The Compleat 
Angler;"- but it is two hundred and fifty years old. 
Therefore I prefer to pass on to the following, of modern 
date and direct authentication. 


During the autumn of 1857, Mr. Daniel M , a 

young American gentleman, after having traveled 
throughout Germany, was returning to the United 
States in a Bremen packet. 

One tempestuous evening his mother, Mrs. A 

M , residing near J^ew York, knowing that her son 

was probably then at sea, became much alarmed for his 
safety, and put up in secret an earnest prayer that ho 
might be preserved to her. 

There was residing in the same house with her, at that 
time, one of her nieces, named Louisa, who was in the 
habit of receiving impressions of what might be called a 
clairvoyant character. This niece had heard the expres- 
sion of her aunt's fears, but, like the rest of the family, 
she was ignorant that these fears had found expression 
in prayer for her cousin's safety. The day after the 
tempest, she had an impression so vivid and distinct 
that she was induced to record it in writino;. It was to 
the effect that her aunt had no cause to fear, seeino- that 
the object of her anxiety was in safety, and that at the 

■■• " Tlie Lives of Dr. John Donne, Sir Henry Wotton, etc." By Isaad 
Walton, Oxford edition, 1824, pp. 16 to 19. 


very hour of the previous evening when the mother 
had so earnestly put up a secret prayer for him, Iter soUy 
being at the time in his state-room, had been conscious of his 
mother's jjresence. 

This she read to her aunt the same day, thinking it 
might tend to comfort her. 

And then she waited with great anxiety for her 
cousin's return, when she might have her doubts resolved 
as to the truth or falsehood of the mysterious impression 
regarding him. 

He arrived three weeks afterward, safe and well; but 
during the afternoon and evening that succeeded his 
arrival, no allusion whatever was made by any one to 
the above circumstances. When the rest of the family 
retired, Louisa remained, proposing to question him on 
the subject. He had stepped out; but after a few mi- 
nutes he returned to the parlor, came uf) to the opposite 
side of the table at which she was sitting, looking 
agitated, and, before she herself could proffer a word, 
he said, with much emotion, " Cousin, I must tell you 
a most remarkable thing that happened to me." And 
with that, to her astonishment, he burst into tears. 

She felt that the solution of her doubts was at hand; 
and so it proved. He told her that one night during 
the voyage, soon after he had lain down, he saw, on the 
side of the state-room opposite his berth, the appear- 
ance of his mother. It was so startlingly like a real 
person that he rose and approached it. He did not, 
however, attempt to touch it, being ultimately satisfied 
that it was an apparition only. But on his return to his 
berth he still saw it, for some minutes, as before. 

On comparing notes, it was ascertained that the even- 
ing on which the young man thus saw the appearance 
of his mother at sea was the same on which she had so 
earnestly prayed for his safet}', — the very same, too, which 
his cousin Louisa had designated in writing, three weeks 


before, as the time when he had seen the apparition in 
question. And, as nearly as they could make it out, the 
hour also corresponded. 

The above narrative was communicated to me* by 
the tw^o ladies concerned, the mother and her niece, both 
being together when I obtained it. They are highly 
intellectual and cultivated. I am w^ell acquainted with 
them, and I know that entire reliance may be placed on 
their statement. 

In this case, as in that in which the apparition of Mr. 
Thompson showed itself to mother and daughter, there 
are two persons having coincident sensations; Louisa 
impressed that her cousin Avas conscious of his mother's 
presence, and the cousin impressed with that very con- 
sciousness. Unlike the Thompson case, the cousins were 
many hundred miles distant from each other at the time. 
Suggestion was impossible ; equally so was any mistake 
by after-thought. Louisa committed her impression to 
writing at the time, and read it to her aunt. The writing 
remained, real and definite, in proof of that impression. 
And she made no inquiry of her cousin, put no leading 
question, to draw out a confirmation or refutation of 
her perceptions regarding him. The young man volun- 
teered his story; and his tears of emotion attested the 
impression which the apparition had made. 

Chance coincidence, as every one must see, was out 
of the question. Some other explanation, be it what it 
may, must be sought. 

The following narrative, drawn from nautical life, ex- 
hibits coincidences as unmistakably produced by some 
agency other than chance. 

Mr. Eobert Eruce, originally descended from some 
branch of the Scottish family of that name, was born, 

«• On the Sth of August, 1859. 


in humble circumstances, tibout the close of the last cen- 
tury, at Torbay, in the south of England, and there bred 
uj) to a seafaring life. 

When about thirty years of age, to wit, in the year 
1828, he was first mate on a bark trading between 
Liverpool and St. John's, New Brunswick. 

On one of her voyages bound westward, being then 
some five or six weeks out and having neared the east- 
ern portion of the Banks of Newfoundland, the captain 
and mate had been on deck at noon, taking an observa- 
tion of the sun ; after which they both descended to 
calculate their day's work. 

The cabin, a small one, was immediately at the stern 
of the vessel, and the short stairway descending to it 
ran athwart-ships. Immediately opj^osite to this stair- 
way, just beyond a small square landing, was the mate's 
state-room; and from that landing there were two 
doors, close to each other, the one opening aft into the 
cabin, the other, fronting the stairway, into the state- 
room. The desk in the state-room was in the forward 
part of it, close to the door; so that any one sitting at 
it and looking over his shoulder could see into the cabin. 

The mate, absorbed in his calculation, which did not 
result as he expected, varying considerabl}^ from the 
dead-reckoning, had not noticed the captain's motions. 
"When he had completed his calculations, he called out, 
without looking round, " I make our latitude and longi- 
tude so and so. Can that be right ? How is yours ?" 

Receiving no reply, he repeated his question, glancing 
over his shoulder and perceiving, as he thought, the 
captain busy writing on his slate. Still no answer. 
Thereupon he rose; and, as he fronted the cabin-door, 
the figure he had mistaken for the captain raised his 
head and disclosed to the astonished mate the features 
of an entire stranger. 

Bruce was no coward; but, as he met that fixed gaze 

IN THE captain's CABIN. ' 335 

looking directly at him in grave silence, and became 
assured that it was no one whom he had ever seen 
before, it was too much for him; and, instead of stop- 
ping to question the seeming intruder, he rushed upon 
deck in such evident alarm that it instantly attracted 
the captain's attention. " Why, Mr. Bruce," said the 
hitter, '^ what in the world is the matter with you V 

" The matter, sir ? Who is that at your desk ?" 

^*]^o one that I know of." 

" But there is, sir : there's a stranger there." 

"A stranger! Why, man, you must be dreaming. 
You must have seen the steward there, or the second 
mate. Who else would venture down without orders ?" 

'^ But, sir, he was sitting in your arm-chair, fronting 
the door, writing on your slate. Then he looked up 
full in my face ; and, if ever I saw a man plainly and 
distinctly in this world, I saw him.'' 

" Him I AVhom ?" 

"God knows, sir: I don't. I saw a man, and a man 
I had never seen in my life before." 

" You must be going crazy, Mr. Bruce. A stranger, 
and we nearly six weeks out !" 

" I know, sir ; but then I saw him." 

" Go down and see who it is." 

Bruce hesitated. ''I never was a believer in ghosts," 
he said ; " but, if the truth must be told, sir, I'd rathei 
not face it alone." 

" Come, come, man. Go down at once, and don't 
make a fool of yourself before the crew." 

*' I hope you've always found me willing to do what's 
reasonable," Bruce replied, changing color; "but if it's 
all the same to you, sir, I'd rather we should both go 
down together," 

The captain descended the stairs, and the mate fol- 
lowed him. Xobody in the cabin ! They examined 
the state-rooms. Xot a soul to be found ! 


" Well, Mr. Bruce/' said the captain, " did not I tell 
you you had been dreaming?" 

''It's all very well to say so, sir; but if I didn't see 
that man writing on your slate, may I never see my 
home and family again !" 

" Ah ! writing on the slate ! Then it should be there 
still." And the captain took it up. 

"By God," he exclaimed, "here's something, sure 
enough ! Is that your writing, Mr. Bruce ?" 

The mate took the slate ; and there, in plain, legible 
characters, stood the words, "Steer to the nor' west." 

"Have you been trifling with me, sir?" added the 
captain, in a stern manner. 

" On my word as a man and as a sailor, sir," replied 
Bruce, " I know no more of this matter than you do. 
I have told you the exact truth." 

The captain sat down at his desk, the slate before 
him, in deep thought. At last, turning the slate over 
and pushing it toward Bruce, he said, "Write down, 
' Steer to the nor' west.' " 

The mate complied; and the captain, after narrowly 
comparing the two handwritings, said, " Mr. Bruce, go 
and tell the second mate to come down here." 

He came ; and, at the captain's request, he also wrote 
the same words. So did the steward. So, in succession, 
did every man of the crew who could write at all. But 
not one of the various hands resembled, in any degree, 
the mvsterious writino;. . 

When the crew retired, the captain sat deep in thought. 
" Could any one have been stowed away ?" at last he 
said. "The ship must be searched; and if I don't find 
the fellow he must be a good hand at hide-and-seek. 
Order up all hands." 

Every nook and corner of the vessel, from stem to 
stern, was thoroughly searched, and that with all the 
eagerness of excited curiosity, — for the report had gone 

A RESCUE. 337 

out that a stranger had shown himself on board; but 
not a living soul beyond the crew and the officers was 

Returning to the cabin after their fruitless search, 
"Mr. Bruce/' said the captain, '-what the devil do you 
make of all this V 

"Can't tell, sir. I saw the man write; you see the 
writing. There must be something in it." 

" Well, it would seem so. We have the wind free, 
and I have a great mind to keep her away and see what 
will come of it." 

" I surely would, sir, if I were in your place. It's 
only a few hours lost, at the worst." 

" Weil, we'll see. Go on deck and give the course 
nor' west. And, ]\Ir. Bruce," he added, as the mate rose 
to go, " have a look-out aloft, and let it be a hand you 
can depend on." 

His orders were obeyed. About three o'clock the 
look-out reported an iceberg nearly ahead, and, shortly 
after, what he thought was a vessel of some kind close 
to it. 

As they approached, the captain's glass disclosed the 

^fact that it was a dismantled ship, apparently frozen to 

the ice, and with a good many human beings on it. 

Shortly after, they hove to, and sent out the boats to 

the relief of the sufferers. 

It proved to be a vessel from Quebec, bound to Liver- 
pool, with passengers on board. She had got entangled 
in the ice, and finally frozen fast, and had passed several 
weeks in a most critical situation. She was stove, her 
decks swept, — in fact, a mere wreck ; all her provisions 
and almost all her water gone. Her crew and passen- 
gers had lost all hoj)es of being saved, and their grati- 
tude for the unexpected rescue was proportionately 

As one of the men who had been brought away in 
W 29 


the third boat that had reached the wreck was ascend- 
ing the ship's side, the mate, catching a glimpse of his 
face, started hack in consternation. It was the very 
face he had seen, three or four hours before, looking up 
at him from the captain's desk. 

At first he tried to persuade himself it might be fanc}' ; 
but the more he examined the man the more sure he 
became that he was right. Not only the face, but the 
2)erson and the dress, exactly corresponded. 

As soon as the exhausted crew and famished passen- 
gers were cared for, and the bark on her course again, 
the mate called the captain aside. ^^ It seems that was 
not a ghost I saw to-day, sir : the man's alive." 

** What do you mean ? Who's alive ?" 

" Why, sir, one of the passengers we have just saved 
is the same man I saw writing on your slate at noon. 
I w^ould swear to it in a court of justice." 

"Upon my word, Mr. Bruce," replied the captain, 
" this gets more and more singular. Let us go and see 
this man." 

They found him in conversation with the captain of 
the rescued ship. They both came forward, and ex- 
pressed, in the warmest terms, their gratitude for de- '^^^ 
liverance from a horrible fate, — slow-coming death by 
exposure and starvation. 

The captain replied that he had but done what he was 
certain they w^ould have done for him under the same 
circumstances, and asked them both to step down into 
the cabin. Then, turning to the passenger, he said, '^ I 
hope, sir, you will not think I am trifling with you ; but 
I would be much obliged to you if you would write a 
few w^ords on this slate." And he handed him the slate, 
with that side up on which the mysterious writing was 
not. "I will do any thing you ask," replied the passen- 
ger; " but what shall I write ?" , 


'^A few words are all I want. Suppose you write, 
* Steer to the nor'west.' '^ 

The passenger, evidently puzzled to make out the 
motive for such a request, complied, however, with a 
smile. The captain took up the slate and examined it 
closely; then, stepping aside so as to conceal the slate 
from the passenger, he turned it over, and gave it to him 
again with the other side up. 

" You say that is your handwriting?" said he. 

^' I need not say so,'' rejoined the other, looking at it, 
" for you saw me write it." 

" And this ?" said the captain, turning the slate over. 

The man looked first at one writing, then at the 
other, quite confounded. At last, " What is the meaning 
of this?" said he. '^I only wrote one of these. Who 
wrote the other ?" 

" That's more than I can tell you, sir. My mate hero 
says you wrote it, sitting at this desk, at noon to-day." 

The captain of the wreck and the passenger looked 
at each other, exchanging glances of intelligence and 
surjDrise; and the former asked the latter, "Did you 
dream that you wrote on this slate ?" 

" No, sir, not that I remember.'^ 

" You speak of dreaming," said the captain of the 
bark. " What was this gentleman about at noon to- 
day ?" 

"Captain," rejoined the other, "the whole thing is 
most mysterious and extraordinary; and I had intended 
to speak to you about it as soon as we got a little 
quiet. This gentleman," (pointing to the passenger,) 
" being much exhausted, fell into a heavy sleep, or what 
seemed such, some time before noon. After an hour or 
more, he awoke, and said to me, ' Captain, we shall be 
relieved this very day.^ When I asked him what reason 
he had for saying so, he replied that he had dreamed 
that he was on board a bark, and that she was coming 


to our rescue. He described her appearance and rig; 
and, to our utter astonishment, when your vessel hove 
in sight she corresponded exactly to his description of 
her. We had not put much faith in what he said ; yet 
still we hoped there might be something in it, for drown- 
ing men, you know, Avill catch at straws. As it has 
turned out, I cannot doubt that it was all arranged, in 
some incomprehensible way, by an overruling Provi- 
dence, so that we might be saved. To Him be all thanks 
for His goodness to us." 

" TJiere is not a doubt," rejoined the other captain, 
" that the writing on the slate^ let it have come there 
as it may, saved all your lives. I was steering at the 
time considerably south of west, and I altered my 
course to nor'west, and had a look-out aloft, to see what 
would come of it. But you say," he added, turning to 
the passenger, 'Hhat you did not dream of writing on 
a slate?" 

" No, sir. I have no recollection whatever of doing 
so. I got the impression that the bark I saw in my 
dream was coming to rescue us; but how that im- 
pression came I cannot tell. There is another very 
strange thing about it," he added. ''Every thing here 
on board seems to me quite familiar; yet I am very 
sure I never was in your vessel before. It is all a 
puzzle to me. What did 3^our mate see?" 

Thereupon Mr. Bruce related to them all the circum- 
stances above detailed. - The conclusion they finally 
arrived at was, that it was a special interposition of 
Providence to save them from what seemed a hopeless 

The above narrative was communicated to me by 
Capt. J. S. Clarke, of the schooner Julia Hallock,* who 

"* In July, 1859. The Julia Ilallock was then lying at the foot of Rut- 
gers Slip, New York. She trades between New York and St. Jago, in the 


had it directly from Mr. Bruce himself. They sailed 
together for seventeen months, in the years 1836 and 
'37; so that Captain Clarke had the story from the 
mate about eight years after the occurrence. He has 
since lost sight of him, and does not know whether he 
is yet alive. All he has heard of him since they were 
shipmates is, that he continued to trade to Kew Bruns- 
wick, that he became the master of the brig Comet, and 
that she was lost. 

I asked Captain Clarke if he knew Bruce well, and 
what sort of man he was. 

'^As truthful and straightforward a man,'' he re- 
plied, '^as ever I met in all my life \Ye were as inti- 
mate as brothers; and two men can't be together, shut 
np for seventeen months in the same ship, without 
getting to know whether they can trust one another's 
word or not. He always spoke of the circumstance in 
terms of reverence, as of an incident that seemed to 
bring him nearer to God and to another world. I'd 
stake my life upon it that he told me no lie." 

This stor}^, it will be observed, I had at second hand 
only, and related after an interval of more than twenty 
years from the time it was told to Captain Clarke. I 
had no opportunity of cross-examining the main wit- 
ness. Inaccuracies of detail, therefore, may, with the 
best intentions on the part of all concerned, have crept 
into it. Yet the evidence, with the drawback above 
stated, is as direct as it can well be. And Captain 
Clarke furnishes the best proof of his sincerity when he 
permits me to use his name as reference in support of 
what I have here related. 

island of Cuba. The captain allowed me to use his name, and to refer to 
him as evidence for the truth of what is here set down. 



Evidence at second hand, how reliable soever it ap- 
pear, might properly be deemed inconclusive if the 
story stood alone. But if we lind others, as we have, 
directly authenticated, of the same class, furnishing 
proof of phenomena strictly analogous to those which 
lie at the bottom of this narrative, there seems no suffi- 
cient reason why we should regard it as apocryphal, 
or, setting it down as some idle forecastle yarn, should 
refuse to admit it as a valid item of evidence. 

It is not, for example, characterized by phenomena 
more marvelous than those presented in the following 
^tory, of much later date, and directly authenticated by 
the chief witness : — 


In November of the year 1843, Miss H , a young 

lady then between thirteen and fourteen years of age, 
was on a visit to a family of her acquaintance (Mr. 
and Mrs. E ) residing at their country-seat in Cam- 
bridgeshire, England. Mrs. E was taken ill; and, 

her disease assuming a serious form, she was recom- 
mended to go to London for medical advice. She did 
so; her husband accompanied her; and they left their 
guest and their two children, the youngest only ten 
weeks old, at home. 

The journey, however, proved unavailing : the dis- 
ease increased, and that so rapidly that, after a brief 
sojourn in the meti'opolis, the patient could not bear 

In the mean time the youngest child, little Fannie, 
sickened, and, after a brief illness, died. They wrote 
immediately to the father, then attending on what he 
felt to be the death-bedof his wife; and he posted down 
at once. It was on a Monday that the infixnt died; on 

Tuesday Mr. E arrived, made arrangements for the 

funeral, and left on Wednesday to return to his wafe. 


from whom, however, he concealed the death of her 

On Thursday, Miss 11 received from him a letter, 

in whieli he begged her to go into his study and take 
from his desk there certain papers which were j^ress- 
ingly wanted. It was in this study that the body of 
the infant lay in its coffin; and, as the young lady pro- 
ceeded thither to execute the commission, one of the 
servants said to her, ''Oh, miss, are you not afraid?" 
She reiDlied that there was nothing to be afraid of, and 
entered the study, where she found the papers required. 
As she turned, before leaving the room, to look at the 
babe, she saw, reclining on a sofa near to it, the figure 
of a lady whom she recognized as the mother. Having 
from infancy been accustomed to the occasional sight 
of apparitions, she was not alarmed, but approached the 
sofa to satisfy herself that it icas the appearance of her 
friend. Standing within three or four feet of the figure 
for several minutes, she assured herself of its identity. 
It did not speak, but, raising one arm, it first pointed 
to the body of the infimt, and then signed upward. 
Soon afterward, and before it disappeared, the young 
lady left the room. 

This was a few minutes after four o'clock in the 

afternoon. Miss H particularly noticed the time, 

as she heard the clock strike the hour a little before 
she entered the study. 

The next day she received from Mr. E a letter, 

informing her that his wife had died the preceding day 
(Thursday) at half-past four. And when, a few days 
later, that gentleman himself arrived, he stated that Mrs. 

E 's mind had evidently wandered before her death ; 

for, but a little time previous to that event, seeming to 
revive as from a swoon, she had asked her husband " why 
he had not told her that her baby was in heaven." AYhen 
he replied evasively, still wishing to conceal from her the 


fact of her child's death, lest the shock might hasten 
her own, she said to him, "It is useless to deny it, 
Samuel; for I have just been home, and have seen her in 
her little coffin. Except for your sake, I am glad she is 
gone to a better world; for I shall soon be there to meet 
her myself" Yery shortly after this she expired. 

This narrative was related to me in January, 1859, 
by the lady who saw the apparition. She is now the 
wife of a learned professor, and the active and respected 
mother of a family, with as little, apparently, of the 
idle enthusiast or dreamy visionary about her as pos- 
sible. She resides near London.* 

It will be observed that, as the young lady entered 
the study a few minutes after four, and as the mother 
spoke of her alleged visit very shortly before her death, 
which occurred at half-past four, the coincidence as to 
time is, as nearly as may be, exact. 

Space fails me, and it might little avail, to multiply 
similar examples. Instead, therefore, of so doing, I 
shall here place before the reader one or two narratives 
wherein I hope that he may find some traces, vague if 
they be, indicating the character of the phenomena ex- 
hibited in the j)receding examples, and hinting to us, 
if even slightly, how these may occur. 

I am fortunately enabled to furnish these at firsthand. 

■* This story was submitted by me, in manuscript, to the lady in question, 
and its accuracy assented to by her. 

In exemplification of the manner in which such phenomena are oflen 

kept hushed up, I may state that Miss H , though with an instinctive 

feeling of how it would be received, ventured, soon after she left the 
study, to say to a lady then residing in the house, that she thought she had 

just seen Mrs. E , and hoped there would be no bad news from London 

the next day. For this she was so sharply chidden, and so peremptorily 
bid not to nurse such ridiculous fancies, that, even when the confirmatory 

news arrived and Mr. E returned home, she was deterred from stating 

the circumstance to him. To this day he does not know it. 



In June of the year 1857, a lady whom I shall desig- 
nate as Mrs. A was residing with her husband, a 

colonel in the British army, and their infant child, on 
Woolwich Common, near London. 

One night in the early part of that month, suddenly 
awaking to consciousness, she felt herself as if standing 
by the bedside and looking upon her own body, w4iich 
lay there by the side of her sleeping husband. Her first 
impression was that she had died suddenly; and the 
idea was confirmed by the pale and lifeless look of the 
body, the face void of expression, and the whole appear- 
ance showing no sign of vitality. She gazed at it with 
curiosity for some time, comparing its dead look wath 
that of the fresh countenances of her husband and of 
her slumbering infant in a cradle hard by. For a 
moment she experienced a feeling of relief that she had 
escaped the pangs of death; but the next she reflected 
what a grief her death would be to the survivors, and 
then came a wish that she could have broken the news 
to them gradually. While engaged in these thoughts, 
she felt herself carried to the wall of the room, with a 
feeling that it must arrest her farther progress. But no : 
she seemed to pass through it, into the open air. Out- 
side the house was a tree; and this also she appeared to 
traverse, as if it interposed no obstacle. All this oc- 
curred without any desire on her part. Equally with- 
out having wished or expected it, she found herself, 
after a time, on the oj)posite side of the Common, at 
Woolwich, close to the entrance of what is called the 
depository.''' She saw there, as is usual, a sentry, and 
narrowly observed his uniform and appearance. From 
his careless manner, she felt sure that, though she seemed 
to herself to be standing near him, he did not perceive 

*■ A storehouse of arms and ammunition. 


her. Then, first passing to the arsenal, where she saw 
another sentinel, she returned to the barracks, and there 
heard the clock strike three. Immediately after this 
she found herself in the bedchamber of an intimate friend, 

Miss L M , then residing at Greenwich. With 

her she seemed to commence a conversation, but its pur- 
port she did not afterward distinctl}' recollect; for soon 
after it began she was conscious of seeing and hearing 
nothing more. 

Her first words on awaking next morning were, " So 
I am not dead, after all ?" When her husband questioned 
her as to the meaning of so strange an exclamation, she 
related to him the vision (if vision it was) of the night. 

The above occurred during a Wednesday night; and 

they expected Miss L M on a visit on the next 

Friday. The husband exacted from his wife a promise 
that she would not write to, or in any way communicate 
with, this young lady in the mean time; and she gave 
him her word of honor to that effect. 

So far there appeared to be nothing beyond an ordi- 
nary phenomenon, such as constantly occurs during sleep. 
It is not, indeed, customary to dream of seeing oneself; 
but who shall set limits to the vagaries of the sleeping 
fancy ? 

The sequel, however, contains the puzzle, and, some 
may think, one of those explanatory hints that are 
Avorth noting and reflecting on. 

Colonel A was in- company with his wife when, 

on the next Friday, she met her friend. Miss L M . 

It ought to be stated that this lady has from her child- 
hood habitually seen aj^paritions. Xo allusion what- 
ever was made to the subject uppermost in their 
thoughts; and after a while they all three walked out 
into the garden. There the two ladies began conversing 

about a new bonnet; and Mrs. A said, "My last was 

trimmed with violet; and I like the color so much I 


think I shall select it again. '^ ''Yes/' her friend replied, 

" I know that is jour color." "How so ?" Mrs. A 

asked. "Because when you came to me the other 
night — let me see: when was it? — ah, I remember, 
night before last — it was robed in violet that you ap- 
peared to me." "I appeared to you the other night?" 
"Yes, about three o'clock; and we had quite a conversa- 
tion together. Have you no recollection of it ?" 

This was deemed conclusive, both by husband and 
wife, in proof that something beyond the usual hypo- 
thesis of dreaming fancy was necessary to explain the 
visionary excursion to AVoolwich. 

This is the only time that any similar occur- 
rence has happened to Mrs. Colonel A . Her hus- 
band is now in India, a brigadier-general; and she has 
often earnestly longed that her spirit might be per- 
mitted, during the watches of the night, to visit him 
there. For a time, encouraged by what had already 
happened, she expected this. But longing and expecta- 
tion have proved alike unavailing. Un thought of, un- 
wished for, the phenomenon came; earnestly de- 
sired, fondly expected, it failed to appear. Expectant 
attention, then, is evidently not the explanation in this 

It was related to me in February, 1859, by the one 
lady, the nightly visitant, and confirmed to me, a few 
days afterward, by the other, the receiver of the visit. 

Eesembling in its general character the "Wilkins 
dream, the above differs from it chiefly in this, that the 
narrator appears to have observed more minutely the 
succession of her sensations; thus suggesting to us the 
idea that the apparently lifeless body which seemed to 
her to remain behind might, for the time, have parted 
with what we may call a spiritual portion of itself;"^ 

* Dr. Kerner relates that on the 2Sth of 3Iay, 1S27, about three o'clock 

348 THE CASE or 

■^vhicll portion, moving off' without tlie usual means of 
locomotion, might make itself perceptible, at a certain 
distance, to another person. 

Let him who may pronounce this a fantastical hypo- 
thesis, absurd on its face, suggest some other sufficient 
to explain the phenomena we are here examining. 
And, before doing so, let him peruse the following; a 
narrative, as he will see, from the lips of an eye-witness, 
and which I regard as the most conclusive of its kind 
it has ever been my good fortune to obtain. 


Habitual Apparition of a Living Person. 

There existed in the year 1845, and is still continued, 
in Livonia, about thirty-six miles from Eiga and a mile 
and a half from the small town of Wolmar, an institu- 
tion of high reroute for the education of young ladies, 
entitled the Pensionnat of ISTeuwelcke. It is under the 
superintendence of Moravian directors; of whom the 
principal, at the time of the occurrences about to be 
related, was named Buch, 

There were, in that year, forty-two young ladies re- 
siding there as boarders, chiefly daughters of noble Livo- 
nian families; among them. Mademoiselle Julie, second 
daughter of the Baron de Guldenstubbe, then thirteen 
years of age. 

in the afternoon, being with Madame HaufTe, who was ill in bed at the 
time, that lady suddenly perceived the appearance of herself, seated in a 
chair, wearing a white dress; not that which she then wore, but another 
belonging to her. She endeavored to cry out, but could neither speak nor 
move. Her eyes remained wide open and fixed; but she saw nothing ex- 
cept the appearance and the chair on which it sat. After a time she saw 
the figure rise and approach her. Then, as it came quite close to her, she 
experienced what seemed an electric shock, the effect of which was percep- 
tible to Dr. Kerner ; and, with a sudden cry, she regained the power of 
speech, and related what she had seen and felt. Dr. Kerner saw nothing. 
—"Seherin von Prevoret" pp. 138, 139. 


In lliis institiUion one of the female teachers at that 
time was Mademoiselle Emelie vSagee, a French lady, 
from Dijon. She was of the jS'orthern type, — a blonde, 
with very fair complexion, light-blue eyes, chestnut 
hair, slightly above the middle size, and of slender figure. 
In character she was amiable, quiet, and good tempered; 
not at all given to anger or impatience; but of an 
anxious disposition, and, as to her physical tempera- 
ment, somewhat nervously excitable. Her health was 
usually good; and during the year and a half that she 
lived as teacher at Neuwelcke she had but one or two 
slight indispositions. She was intelligent and accom- 
plished; and the directors, during the entire period of 
her stay, were perfectly satisfied with her conduct, her 
industry, and her acquirements. She was at that time 
thirty-two years of age. 

A few weeks after Mademoiselj^ Sagee first arrived, 
singular reports began to circulate among the pupils. 
When some casual inquiry happened to be made as to 
where she was, one young lady would reply that she 
had seen her in such or such a room ; whereupon an- 
other would say, '-Qh, no! she can't be there; for I 
have just met her on the stairway;" or perhaps in some 
distant corridor. At first they naturally supposed it 
was mere mistake; but, as the same thing recurred 
again and again, they began to think it very odd, and 
finally spoke to the other governesses about it. Whether 
the teachers, at that time, could have furnished an ex- 
planation or not, they gave none : they merely told the 
young ladies it was all fancy and nonsense, and bade them 
pay no attention to it. 

But, after a time, things much more extraordinary, 
and which could not be set down to imagination or mis- 
take, began to occur. One day tlie governess w^as giving 
a lesson to a class of thirteen, of whom Mademoiselle de 
Guldenstubbe was one, and was demonstrating, with 




eagerness, some proposition, to illustrate which she had 
occasion to write with chalk on a blackboard. While 
she was doing so, and the young ladies were looking at 
lier, to their consternation, they suddenly saw two 
J\[ademoiselle Sagees, the one by the side of the other. 
They were exactly alike; and they used the same ges- 
tures, only that the real person held a bit of chalk in 
her hand, and did actually write, while the double had 
no chalk, and only imitated the motion. 

This incident naturally caused a great sensation in 
the establishment. It Avas ascertained, on inquiry, that 
every one of the thirteen young ladies in the class had 
seen the second figure, and that thej^ all agreed in their 
description of its appearance and of its motions. 

Soon after, one of the pupils, a Mademoiselle Antonie 
de AYrangel, having obtained permission, with some 
others, to attend a fete champetre in the neighborhood, 
and being engaged in completing her toilet, Mademoiselle 
Sagee had good-naturedly volunteered her aid, and was 
hooking her dress behind. The young lady, happening 
to turn round and to look in an adjacent mirror, per- 
ceived two Mademoiselle Sagees hooking her dress. 
The sudden apparition produced so much effect upon 
her that she fainted. 

Months passed by, and similar phenomena w^ere still 
repeated. Sometimes, at dinner, the double appeared 
standing behind the teacher's chair and imitating her 
motions as she ate, — only that its hands held no knife 
and fork, and that there was no appearance of food; the 
figure alone was repeated. All the puj)ils and the ser- 
vants waiting on the table witnessed this. 

It was only occasionally, however, that the double 
appeared to imitate the motions of the real person. 
Sometimes, when the latter rose from a chair, the figure 
would appear seated on it. On one occasion. Made- 
moiselle Sagee being confined to bed with an attack of 


influenza, the young lady already mentioned, ^lade- 
moiselle de Wrangel, was sitting by her bedside, reading 
to her. Suddenly the governess became stiff and pale; 
and, seeming as if about to faint, the young lady, ahirmed, 
asked if she was worse. She replied that she was not, 
but in a very feeble and languid voice. A few seconds 
afterward. Mademoiselle de Wrangel, happening to look 
round, saw, quite distinctly, the figure of the governess 
walking up and down the apartment. This time the 
young lady had sufficient self-control to remain quiet, 
and even to make no remark to the patient. Soon 
afterward she came down-stairs, looking very pale, and 
related what she had witnessed. 

But the most remarkable example of this seeming 
aidependent action of the two figures happened in this 

One day all the young ladies of the institution, to the 
number of forty-two, were assembled in the same room, 
engaged in embroidery. It was a spacious hall on the 
first floor of the principal building, and had four large 
windows, or rather glass doors, (for they opened to the 
floor,) giving entrance to a garden of some extent in 
front of the house. There was a long table in the center 
of the room ; and here it was that the various classes 
were wont to unite for needle-work or similar occupation. 

On this occasion the young ladies were all seated at 
the table in question, whence they could readily see what 
passed in the garden; and, w^hile engaged at their work, 
they had noticed Mademoiselle Sagee there, not far from 
the house, gathering flowers, of which she was very fond. 
At the head of the table, seated in an arm-chair, (of 
green morocco, mj informant says, she still distinctly 
recollects that it was,) sat another teacher, in charge of 
the pupils. After a time this lad}^ had occasion to leave 
the room, and the arm-chair was left vacant. It re- 
mained so, however, for a short time only; for of a 

352 ^^•IIy a livonian school-teacher 

sudden there appeared seated in it the figure of Made- 
moiselle Sagee. The young ladies immediately looked 
into the garden, and there she still was, engaged as be- 
fore; on]}' they remarked that she moved very slowly 
and languidl}^, as a drowsy or exhausted person might. 
Again they looked at the arm-chair, and there she sat, 
silent, and without motion, but to the sight so palpably 
real that, had they not seen her outside in the garden 
and had they not known that she appeared in the chair 
without having walked into the room, they would all 
have supposed that it was the lady herself As it was 
being quite certain that it was not a real person, and 
having become, to a certain extent, familiar with this 
strange phenomenon, two of the boldest approached and 
tried to touch the figure. They averred that they did 
feel a slight resistance, which they likened to that which 
a fabric of fine muslin or crape would offer to the touch. 
One of the two then passed close in front of the arm- 
chair, and actually through a portion of the figure. The 
appearance, however, remained, after she had done so, 
for some time longer, still seated, as before. At last it 
gradually disappeared; and then it was observed that 
Mademoiselle Sagee resumed, with all her usual activity, 
her task of flower-gathering. Every one of the forty- 
two pupils saw the same figure in the same way. 

Some of the young ladies afterward asked Mademoi- 
selle Sagee if there was any thing peculiar in her feel- 
ings on this occasion. She replied that she recollected 
this only: that, happening to look up, and perceiving the 
teacher's arm-chair to be vacant, she had thought to 
herself, '^I wish she had not gone away: these girls 
will be sure to be idling their time and getting into 
some mischief" 

This phenomenon continued, under various modifica- 
tions, throughout the whole time that Mademoiselle 
Sagee retained her situation at Keuwelcke; that is, 


throughout a portion of the years 1845 and 1846 ; and, 
in all, for about a year and a half; at intervals, how- 
ever, — sometimes intermitting for a week, sometimes for 
several weeks at a time. It seemed chiefly to present 
itself on occasions when the lady was very earnest or 
eager in what she w^as about. It was uniformly re- 
marked that the more distinct and material to the sight 
the double was, the more stifli" and languid w^as the 
living person; and in proportion as the double faded 
did the real individual resume her powers. 

She herself, however, w^as totally unconscious of the 
phenomenon : she had first become aware of it only from 
the re2:)ort of others; and she usually detected it by the 
looks of the persons present. She never, herself, saw the 
appearance, nor seemed to notice the species of rigid apathy 
which crept over her at the times it was seen by others. 

During the eighteen months throughout which my 
informant had an opportunity of witnessing this phe- 
nomenon and of hearing of it through others, no exam- 
ple came to her knowledge of the appearance of the 
figure at any considerable distance — as of several miles — 
from the real person. Sometimes it appeared, but not 
far off, during their walks in the neighborhood ; more 
frequently, however, within-doors. Every servant in the 
house had seen it. It was, apparently, perceptible to all 
persons, without distinction of age or sex. 

It w^ill be readily supposed that so extraordinary a 
phenomenon could not continue to show itself, for more 
than a year, in such an institution, without injury to its 
prosperit}^. In point of fact, as soon as it was completely 
proved, by the double appearance of Mademoiselle 
Sagee before the class, and afterward before the whole 
school, that there was no imagination in the case, the 
matter began to reach the ears of the parents. Some 
of the more timid among the girls, also, became much 
excited, and evinced great alarm whenever they hap- 
X 30* 


penecl to witness so strange and inexplicable a thing. 
The natural result was that their parents began to 
scruple about leaving them under such an influence. 
One after another, as they went home for the holidays, 
ftiiled to return; and though the true reason was not 
assigned to the directors, they knew it well. Being 
strictly upright and conscientious men, however, and 
very unwilling that a well-conducted, diligent, and com- 
petent teacher should lose her position on account of a 
peculiarity that was entirely beyond her control, — a 
misfortune, not a fiiult, — they persevered in retaining 
her, until, at the end of eighteen months, the number of 
pujDils had decreased from forty-two to twelve. It then 
became apparent that either the teacher or the institu- 
tion must be sacrificed; and, with much reluctance and 
many expressions of regret on the part of those to 
whom her amiable qualities had endeared her. Mademoi- 
selle Sagee was dismissed. 

The poor girl was in despair. ^^ Ah!" (Mademoiselle 
de Guldenstubbe heard her exclaim, soon after the de- 
cision reached her,) ^' Ah! the nineteenth time! It is 
ver}^, very hard to bear !" When asked what she meant 
by such an exclamation, she reluctantly confessed that 
previous to her engagement at Xeuweickc she had been 
teacher in eighteen diflerent schools, having entered 
the first when only sixteen years of age, and that, on 
account of the strango and alarming phenomenon which 
attached to her, she had lost, after a comparatively brief 
sojourn, one situation after another. As, how^cver, her 
employers were in every other respect well satisfied 
with her, she obtained in each case favorable testi- 
monials as to her conduct and abilities. Dependent 
entirely on her labor for support, the poor girl had been 
compelled to avail herself of these in search of a liveli- 
hood, in places where the cause of her dismissal was 
not knowm ; even though she felt assured, from expe- 


rience, that a few months could not fail again to dis- 
close it. 

After she left Neuwelcke, she went to live, for a time, 
in the neighborhood, with a sister-in-law, who had several 
quite young children. Thither the peculiarity pursued 
her. Mademoiselle de Guldenstubbe, going to see her 
there, learned that the children of three or four years 
of age all knew of it; being in the habit of saying that 
*'the3^ saw two Aunt Emelies.'' 

Subsequently she set out for the interior of Eussia, 
and Mademoiselle de Guldenstubbe lost sight of her 

That lady was not able to inform me whether the 
phenomenon had shown itself during Mademoiselle 
Sagee's infancy, or previous to her sixteenth year, nor 
whether, in the case of any of her family or of her an- 
cestors, a similar peculiarity had appeared. 

I had the above narrative from Mademoiselle de 
Guldenstubbe herself; and she kindly gave me permis- 
sion to publish it, with every particular of name, place, 
and date. She remained as pupil at JSTeuwelcke during 
the whole time that Mademoiselle Sagee was teacher 
there. 'No one, therefore, could have had a better op- 
portunity of observing the case in all its details. 

In the course of my reading on this subject — and it has 
been somewhat extensive — I have not met with a single 
example of the apparition of the living so remarkable 
and so incontrovertibly authentic as this. The insti- 
tution of ISTeuwelcke still exists, having gradually re- 
covered its standing after Mademoiselle Sagee left it; 
and corroborative evidence can readily be obtained by 
addressing its directors. 

The narrative proves, beyond doubt or denial, that, 
under particular circumstances, the apparition or coun- 
terpart of a living person may appear at a certain dis- 
tance from that person, and may seem, to ordinary 


human sight, so material as not to be distinguishable 
from a real body; also that this appearance ma}'' be re- 
flected from a mirror. Unless the young ladies who 
were courageous enough to try the ex2:)eriment of touch- 
ing it w^ere deceived by their imaginations, it proves, 
further, that such an apparition may have a slight, but 
positive, consistency. 

It seems to prove, also, that care or anxiety on the 
part of the living person may project (if I may so ex- 
2)ress it) the apparition to a particular spot. Yet it was 
sometimes visible when no such cause could be assigned. 

It proves, further, that when the apparition separated 
(if that be the correct expression) from the natural 
body, it took with it a certain portion of that bodj^'s 
ordinary life and strength. It does not appear that in 
this case the languor consequent upon such separation 
ever reached the state of trance or coma, or that the 
rigidity observed at the same time w^ent as far as cata- 
Icps}'; yet it is evident that the tendency was toward 
both of these conditions, and that that tendency was 
the greater in proportion as the apparition became more 

Two remarkable peculiarities mark this case: one, 
that the appearance, visible without exception to every 
one else, remained invisible to the subject of. it; the 
other, that though the second figure was sometimes seen 
to imitate, like an image reflected in a mirror, the ges- 
tures and actions of the first, yet at other times it 
seemed to act entirely independent of it; appearing to 
Avalk up and down w^hile the actual person lay in bed, 
and to be seated in the house while its counterpart 
moved about in the garden. 

It diff'ers from other cases on record in this : that the 
apparition does not appear to have shown itself at any 
considerable distance from the real person. It is possible 
(but this is theory only) that, if it had, the result on 


Mademoiselle Sageo might have been to produce a state 
of trance during its continuance. 

This case may afford us, also, a useful lesson. It may 
teach us that it is idle, in each particular instance of 
apparition or other rare and unexplained phenomenon, 
to deny its reality until we can discover the purpose of 
its appearance; to reject, in short, every extraordinary 
fact until it shall have been clearly explained to us for 
what great object God ordains or permits it. In this 
particular case, what special intention can be assigned ? 
A meritorious young woman is, after repeated eftbrts, 
deprived by an habitual apparition of the opportunity to 
earn an honest livelihood. JSTo other effect is apparent, 
unless we are to suppose that it was intended to warn 
the young girls who witnessed the appearance against 
materialism. But it is probable the effect upon them 
was to produce alarm rather than conviction. 

The phenomenon is one of a class. There is good 
reason, doubtless, for the existence of that class ; but we 
ought not to be called upon to show the particular end 
to be effected by each example. As a general proposi- 
tion, we believe in the great utility of thunder-storms, 
as tending to purify the atmosphere; but who has a 
right to require that we disclose the design of Provi- 
dence if, during the elemental war, Amelia be stricken 
down a corpse from the arms of Celadon ? 

With this example, in which the number of concur- 
rent witnesses completely precludes the hypothesis of 
hallucination, I close my list of cases bearing on appari- 
tions of the living. 

This phenomenon, whatever its exact character, is evi- 
dently the same as that which, under the name of loraith, 
has for centuries formed one of the chief items in what 
are usually considered the superstitions of Scotland. In 
that country it is popularly regarded as a forewarning 


of death. This, doubtless, is a superstition ; and, by the 
aid of the preceding examples, one may rationally con- 
jecture how it originated. 

The indications are, — 

That during a dream or a trance, partial or complete, 
the counterpart of a living person may show itself, at a 
greater or less distance from where that person actually 

And that, as a general rule, with probable exceptions, 
this counterpart appears w^iere the thoughts or the 
affections, strongly excited, may be supposed to be.* 

In the case of Mary Goffef the type is ver}^ distinct. 
Hers was that uncontrollable yearning which a mother 
only knows. " If I cannot sit, I will lie all along upon 
the horse ; for I must go to see my poor babes." So wdien 

the thoughts of Mrs. E , dying in London, reverted 

to her infant, then lying in its coffin in Cambridgeshire. 
So, again, when the Irish clergyman went to dine w^ith 
his bishop, leaving his wife sick at home, and she seemed 
to come forth to meet the returning absentee. To the 
apprentice, the probable murderer, we cannot ascribe 
w^hat merits the name of affection. But we can imagine 
w^ith what terrible vividness his feelings and apprehen- 
sions may have dwelt, throughout the protracted Scot- 
tish church-service, on the spot where lay the body of 
his victim and of his unborn child. 

Less distinctl}^ marked are some of the other cases, as 
that of Joseph Wilkins, not specially anxious about his 
mother; the Indiana bridegroom, Hugh, se^^arated but 
an hour or two from his bride; the servant-boy, Silas, 
gone a-fishing; finally. Mademoiselle Sagee, with no 

* " Examples ha\'e come to my knowledge iu which sick persons, over- 
come with an unspeakable longing to see some absent friend, have fallen 
into a swoon, and during that swoon have appeared to the distant object of 
their affection." — Jung Stilling : Thcorie der Gcistcrkunde, ^ 100. 

f Chapter on Dreams. 


cause for uneasiness more serious than the fear that her 
pupils might waste their time and get into some mis- 
chief or other. In some of these cases, it will be ob- 
served, death speedily followed ; in others it did not. 
Joseph AYilkins lived forty-five years after his dream. 
Hugh survived his wife. Silas is still alive, a prosperous 
tradesman. The counterpart of Mademoiselle Sagee 
showed itself at intervals for sixteen years : how much 
longer we know not. It is evident that a speedy death 
does not necessarily follow such an apparition. 

The reasons why it is in many cases the precursor of 
death probably are, that during a f ital illness the patient 
frequently foils into a state of trance, favorable, in all 
probability, to such a phenomenon -, then, again, that, 
in anticipation of death, the thoughts recur with peculiar 
liveliness to absent objects of affection; and, finally, per- 
haps, that the immaterial principle, soon to be wholly 
freed from its fleshly incumbrance, may, as it approaches 
the moment of entire release, the more readily be able to 
stray off for a time, determined in its course by the 
guiding influence of sympathy. 

But it is evident that the vicinity of death is not 
needed to confer this j)ower, and that anxiety, arising 
from other cause than the anticipation of approaching 
dissolution, may induce it. A tempest aroused the fears 
of the mother for her son on the Bremen packet. She 
appeared to him in his cabin. Yet both mother and son 
are alive at this day. * 

In this, as in a hundred other cases, the dispassionate 
examination of an actual phenomenon, and of its pro- 
bable cause, is the most effectual cure for superstitious 
excitement and vulgar fears. 



" Dare I say 

No spirit ever brake the band 
That stays bim from the native land 

Where first he walked when clasped in clay ? 

"Ko visual shade of rome one lost, 
But he, the spirit himself, may come. 
Where all the nerve of fense is dumb. 

Spirit to spirit, ghost to ghost." — Texxyson. 

IFj as St. Paul teaches and Swedenborgians believe, 
there go to make up the personality of man a natural 
body and a spiritual body;* if these co-exist, while 
earthly life endures, in each one of us ; if, as the apostle 
further intimatesf and the preceding chapter seems to 
prove, the sj^iritual body — a counterpart, it would seem, 
to human sight, of the natural body — may, during life, 
occasionally detach itself, to some extent or other and 
for a time, from the material flesh and blood which for 
a few years it pervades in intimate association ; and if 
death be but the issuing forth of the sj^iritual body from 
its temporary associate; then, at the moment of its exit, 
it is tliat spiritual body which through life may have 
been occasionally and partlal'y detached from the natu- 
ral body, and which at last is thus entirely and forever 

* 1 Corinthians xv. 44. The phrase is not, "a natural body and a spi- 
rit f it is expressly said, " There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual 

t 2 Corinthians xii. 2. 


divorced from it, that paaaes into another state of exist- 

But if that spiritual body, while still connected with 
its earthly associate, could, under certain circumstances, 
appear, distinct and distant from the natural body, and 
perceptible to human vision, if not to human touch, 
what strong presumption is there against the supposi- 
tion that after its final emancipation the same spiritual 
body may still at times show itself to man ?* 

If there be no such adverse presumption, then we 
ought to approach the subject, not as embodying some 
wild vagary barely worth noticing, just within the verge 
of possibility, but as a respectable and eminently serious 
question, worthy of our gravest attention, and as to 
which, let us decide as we will, there is much to be said 
on both sides before reaching a decision. 

Nor is an apparition of the dead a phenomenon (or 
alleged phenomenon) of which the reality can be settled, 
affirmatively or negatively, "by speculation in the closet. 
A hundred theorists, thus speculating, may decide, to 
their own satisfaction, that it ought not to be, or that it 
cannot be. But if sufficient observation show that it is, 
it only follows that these closet theorists had no correct 
conception of the proper or the possible. 

* The Rev. George Strahan, D.D,, in his preface to his collection of the 
*^ Prayers and Medltatio7iss" of his friend Dr. Samuel Johnson, (London, 
1785,) has the following passage : — 

" The improbability arising from rarity of occurrence or singularity of 
nature amounts to no disproof: it is a presumptive reason of doubt too 
feeble to withstand the conviction induced by positive credible testimony, 
such as that which has been borne to shadowy reappearances of the dead." 
..." One true report that a spirit has been seen may give occasion and 
birth to many false reports of similar incidents ; but universal and uncon- 
certed testimony to a supernatural casualty cannot always be untrue. An 
appearing spirit is a prodigy too singular in its nature to become a subject 
of general invention." ..." To a mind not influenced by popular preju- 
dice, it will be scarcely possible to believe that apparitions would have been 
vouched for in all countries had they never been seen in any." 


362 ArrAuiTiu.Ns and aeuulitks. 

It was in the field, not in the closet, that the question 
"vvas decided whether aerolites occasionally fall upon our 
earth. Chladni and Howard might have theorized over 
their desks for a lifetime : they would have left the 
question open still. But they went out into the world. 
They themselves saw no aerolite fall. But they in- 
spected meteoric masses said to have fallen. They made 
out lists of these. They examined witnesses; they col- 
lected evidence. And finally they convinced the world 
of scientific skeptics that the legends in regard to falling 
stones which have been current in all ages, ever since 
the days of Socrates, w^ere something more than fabu- 
lous tales. 

I propose, in prosecuting a more important inquiry, 
to follow the example of Chladni and Howard, with 
what success time and the event must determine. 

Innumerable examples may be met with of persons 
who allege that they have seen apparitions, — among 
these, men eminent for intelligence and uprightness. A 
noted example is that of Oberlin, the well-known 
Alsatian philanthropist, the benevolent pastor of Ban- 

He was visited, two years before his death, — namely, 
in 1824, — by a Mr. Smithson, who published an account 
of his visit.* Thence are gleaned the following par- 


The valley of Ban-de-la-Eoche, or Steintha , in Alsace, 
the scone for more than fifty years of Oberlin's labors 
of love, surrounded by lofty mountains, is for more than 
half the year cut off from the rest of the world by snows 
obstructing the passes. 

* " Intdlectvnl Rt poKiiory'' for April, 1840, pp. 151 to 162. 


There Oberlin found the peasantry with very iDcculiar 
opinions. He said to Mr. Sniithson that when he first 
came to reside among the inhabitants of Steinthal they 
had what he then considered " many superstitious no- 
tions respecting the proximity of the spiritual world, 
and of the appearance of various objectr. and phenomena 
in that world, which from time to time w^ere seen by 
some of the people belonging to his flock. For instance, 
it was not unusual for a person who had died to appear 
to some individual in the valley." . . . ^'The report of 
every new occurrence of this kind w^as brought to Ober- 
lin, who at length became so much annoyed that he was 
resolved to put down this species of superstition, as he 
called it, from the pulpit, and exerted himself for a con- 
siderable time to this end, but with little or no desirable 
effect. Cases became more numerous, and the circum- 
stances so striking as even to stagger the skepticism of 
Oberlin himself." (p. 157.) 

Ultimately the pastor came over to the opinions of 
his parishioners in this matter. And when ]\Ir. Smith- 
son asked him what had worked such conviction, he re- 
plied " that he himself had had ocular and demonstrative 
experience respecting these important subjects." lie 
added that " he had a large pile of papers which he had 
written on this kind of spiritual phenomena, containing 
the facts, with his own reflections upon them." (p. 158.) 
He stated further to Mr. Smithson that such apparitions 
were particularly frequent after that well-known and 
terrible accident which buried several villages, (the fall 
of the Eossberg, in 180G.) Soon after, as Oberljn ex- 
pressed it, a considerable number of the inhabitants of 
the valley "had their spiritual eyesight opened" (p. 159) 
and perceived the apparitions of many of the sufferers. 

Stober, the pupil and biographer of Oberlin, and 
thi^oughout his life the intimate friend of the family, 
stales that the good pastor was fully persuaded of the 

i364 oberltn's belief in 

actual presence of his wife for several years after her 
decease. His unswerving conviction was that, like an 
attendant angel, she w^atched over him, held com- 
munion with him, and was visible to his sight; that she 
instructed him respecting the other world and guarded 
him from danger in this; that, w4ien he contemplated 
any new plan of utility, in regard to the results of 
which he w^as uncertain, she either encouraged his 
efforts or checked him in his project. lie considered 
his interviews with her not as a thing to be doubted, 
but as obvious and certain, — as certain as any event 
that is witnessed wdth the bodily eyes. When asked 
how he distinguished her appearance and her com- 
munications from dreams, he replied, " How do you dis- 
tinguish one color from another?"* 

I myself met, when in Paris, during the month of 
May, 1859, Monsieur Matter, a French gentleman 
holding an important official position in the Depart- 
ment of Public Instruction, who had visited Oberlin 
some time before his death, and to whom the worthy 
pastor submitted the " large pile of papers" referred to 
by Mr. Smithson.f He found it to contain, among 
other things, a narrative of a series of apparitions of 
his deceased wife, and of his interviews w^ith her.J 

Monsieur Matter, who kindly furnished me with 
notes, in wanting, on this matter, adds, '^ Oberlin was 
convinced that the inhabitants of the invisible world 
can appear to us, and we. to them, when God wills; and 
that we are apparitions to them, as they to us."§ 

Neither the intelligence nor the good faith of Oberlin 

* " Vie de J. F. Oberlin," par Stober, p. 223. 

f The manuscript was entitled '' Journal dea Apparitions et histructioi^f 
par Reves." 

X Entretiena was the word employed. 

g This ap])ear3 to have been the opinion of Jung Stilling, with whom 
Oberlin was well acquainted. See " Thenrie dn- Geisterkitndc," ^ ?,. 


can be called in question. But it will be said that in- 
telligence and honesty are no security against halluci- 
nation, and that the pastor, in his secluded valley, after 
the loss of a wife whom he tenderly loved, might gra- 
dually have become infected with the superstitions of his 
parishioners. Although the opinions of such a man as 
Oberlin must ever count for something, yet it is to be 
admitted that we have not the means of disproving 
such surmises as these. 

We need some circumstantial link, connecting the 
alleged apparition with the material world. Can we 
obtain such? 

The following is from a respectable source : — 


'^Condivi relates an extraordinary story respecting 
Piero de' Medici, (son of Lorenzo 'the Magnificent,') 
communicated to him by Michael Angelo, who had, it 
seems, formed an intimacy with one Cardiere, an im- 
provisatore that frequented the house of Lorenzo and 
amused his evenings with singing to the lute. Soon 
after the death of Lorenzo, Cardiere informed Michael 
Angelo that Lorenzo had appeared to him, habited 
only in a black and ragged mantle thrown over his 
naked limbs, and had ordered him to acquaint Piero 
de' Medici that he would in a short time be banished 
from Florence. Cardiere, who seems judiciously to 
have feared the resentment of the living more than of 
the dead, declined the office; but soon afterward Lo- 
renzo, entering his chamber at midnight, awoke him, 
and, reproaching him with his inattention, gave him a 
j^iolent blow on the cheek. Having communicated this 
second visit to his friend, Avho advised him no longer to 
delay his errand, he set out for Careggi, where Piero 
then resided; but, meeting him with his attendants 



about midway between that place and Florence, he 
there delivered his message, to the great amusement of 
Picro and his folloAvers, one of whom — Bernardo 
Divizio, afterward Cardinal da Bibbicna — sarcastically 
asked him ' whether, if Lorenzo had been desirous of 
giving information to his son, it was likely he would 
have preferred such a messenger to a personal com- 
munication.' The biographer adds, 'La vision del 
Cardiere, o delusion diabolica, o predizion divina, o forte 
immaginazione, ch'ella si fosse, si verified.' "* 

Here is an alleged prediction and its fulfillment. But 
the course of policy pursued by Piero was such that it 
needed not prophetic instinct to discern the probability 
that he might one day lose his position in Florence. 
On the other hand, those who know Italian society will 
feel assured that a dependant like Cardiere was not 
likely to venture on such a liberty unless driven to it 
by what he thought an actual injunction. 

As to the cardinal's objection, it is a common one, 
often flippantly expressed. "It is somewhat remark- 
able," says Mr. Grose, " that ghosts do not go about 
their business like persons of this w^orld. In cases of 
murder, a ghost, instead of going to the next justice 
of the peace and laying its information, or to the 
nearest relation of the person murdered, appears to 
some poor laborer Avho knows none of the parties, 
draws the curtains of some decrepit nurse or alms- 
woman, or hovers about the place where his body is 

* " The vision of Cardiere, be it diabolical delusion, or divine fore- 
warning, or vivid imagination, was verified." The anecdote is extracted 
from " The Life of Lorenzo de' Medici," by William Roseoe, chap. 10. 

t "Provincial Glossary and Popular Superstitions," by Francis Grose, 
Esq., F.A.S., 2d cd,, London, 1790, p. 10. 


If the cardinal or the antiquary merit a serious 
answer, it is this : If the appearance of apparitions bo 
an actual phenomena, it is, without doubt, regulated by 
some general hiw. And, to judge from the cxam2:)les on 
record, it would seem that, under that law, it is only 
rarely, under certain conditions and to certain persons, 
that such appearance is possible. 

Somewhat more remarkable is the coincidence in the 
following case : — 


When the celebrated Miss Anna Maria Porter was 
residing at Esher, in Surrey, an aged gentleman of her 
acquaintance, who lived in the same village, was in the 
habit of frequenting her house, usually making his ap- 
pearance every evening, reading the newspaper, and 
taking his cup of tea. 

One evening Miss Porter saw him enter as usual and 
seat himself at the table, but without speaking. She 
addressed some remark to him, to which he made no 
rej^ly; and, after a few seconds, she saw him rise and 
leave the room without uttering a word. 

Astonished, and fearing that he might have been sud- 
denly taken ill, she instantly sent her servant to his 
house to make inquiries. The reply was, that the old 
gentleman had died suddenly about an hour before. 

This was related by Miss Porter herself to Colonel 

H , of the Second Life Guards, and by Colonel 

H 's widow repeated to me, in London, during the 

month of February, 1859. 

Unless we imagine, in this case, an escape from the 
nurse's care resembling that of the member of the 
Plymouth Club in the example already cited from 
Sir AYalter Scott,* it is difficult to avoid the conclusion 

^ See chapter on Dreain?!. 


that this was an apparitiou of the dead. Miss Porter 
herself believed it such; and it appears that she had 
sent immediately^ and that the old gentleman had died 
an hour before. 

It will be admitted that the following is quite as diffi- 
cult to explain away. 


We shall not find, in any other class of society, so 
sensitive an aversion to be taxed with any thing that 
may be construed into superstition as in the fashionable 
man of the world. For that reason the following, from 
the private diary of such a one, who passed his life in 
the most aristocratic circles of London and Paris, the 
intimate of nobles and princes of the blood, is the rather 
entitled to credit. The reserve with which such narra- 
tives are communicated, when the subjects belong to what 
is called good society, is evinced by the substitution of 
initials for the full names- The narrative is communi- 
cated in the most direct manner by one who had the 
best opportunities of knowing the exact facts of the case. 

" Wednesday, December 26, 1832. — Captain re- 
counted a curious anecdote that had happened in his 
own family. He told it in the following words: — 

"It is now about fifteen months ago that Miss M , 

a connection of my family, went with a party of friends 
to a concert at the Argyle rooms. She appeared there 
to be suddenly seized with indisposition, and, though 
she persisted for some time to struggle against what 
seemed a violent nervous affection, it became at last so 
oppressive that they were obliged to send for their 
carriage and conduct her home. She was for a long 
time unwilling to say what was the cause of her indis- 
position; but, on being more earnestly questioned, she 


at length confessed that she had, immediately on ar- 
riving in the concert-room, been terrified by a horrible 
vision, which unceasingly presented itself to her sight. 
It seemed to her as though a naked corpse was lying on 
the floor at her feet; the features of the face were partly 
covered by a cloth mantle, but enough was apparent to 

convince her that the body was that of Sir J Y . 

Every effort was made by her friends at the time to 
tranquilize her mind by representing the folly of allow- 
ing such delusions to prey upon her spirits, and she 
thus retired to bed; but on the following day the family 

received the tidings of Sir J Y having been 

drowned in Southampton Eiver that very night by tlie 
oversetting of his boat; and the body was afterwards 
found entangled in a hoat-cloak. Here is an authenticated 
case of second-sight, and of very recent date."* 

For the following I am indebted to the kindness of 
my friend Dr. Ashburner, of London. 


"In the year 1814 I became acquainted with Colonel 
jSTathan Wilson, a man of strong intellectual powers, 
who had served many years in India under Sir Arthur 
Wellesley, afterward Duke of Wellington. I was intro- 
duced to him by Sir Charles Forbes, at a shooting-lodge 
at Strathdon, and there we had an opportunity of be- 
coming intimate. I had, from his own lips, the narra- 
tive I am about to relate to you, and which I may 
preface by a few words touching the opinions of the 

'' Colonel Wilson made no secret of his atheism. In 
India especially, as I have myself observed, the ten- 

*"^ Portion of the Journal hept hij Thomas Raikes, Esq., from 1831 to 
1847," 2d ed., London, 1856, vol. i. p. 131. 


dency ot many minds, influenced by considering the 
great diversities of religious belief around them, is 
toward skepticism. Colonel Wilson, fortified by the 
perusal of Yolney, D'Holbach, Helvetius, Voltaire, and 
others of similar stamp, rejected, as untenable, the doc- 
t]'ine of a future state of existence, and even received 
with some impatience any arguments on a subject as 
to which, be seemed to think, no one could an}' further 
enlighten him. 

" In the year 1811, being then in command of the 
19th regiment of dragoons,* stationed at Tellicherry, 
and delighting in French literature, he formed an inti- 
macy with Monsieur Dubois, a Eoman Catholic mission- 
ary priest, an ardent and zealous propagandist an'd 
an accomplished man. Notwithstanding the gi^at dif- 
ference in their creeds, so earnest and yet liberal-minded 
was the Frenchman, so varied his store of information, 
and so agreeable and winning his manner, that the mis- 
sionary and the soldier associated much together, and 
finally formed a strong attachment to each other. The 
former did not fail to avail himself of this intimacy by 
endeavoring to bring about the conversion of his friend. 
They conversed often and freely on religious subjects; 
but Colonel Wilson's skepticism remained unshaken. 

^'In July, 1811, the priest fell ill, much to the regret 
of the little circle at Tellicherry, where he was greatly 
beloved. At the same time, a mutiny having broken 
out at Yellore, Colonel Wilson was summoned thither, 
and, proceeding by forced marches, encamped on an 
extensive plain before the town. 

^'The night was sultry; and Colonel Wilson, arrayed 
as is common in that climate, in shirt and long light 
calico drawers with feet, sought repose on a couch 
within his tent; but in vain. Unable to sleep, his 

* Or pof^sibly the 17th dragoons ; fur he had commanded both. 


attention was suddenly attracted to the entrance of his 
tent: he saw the purdah raised and the priest Dubois 
present himself. The pale face and earnest demeanor 
of his friend, who stood silent and motionless, riveted 
his attention. He called him by name, but without 
reply: the purdah fell, and the figure had disap- 

"The colonel sprang up, and, hastily donning his slip- 
pers, rushed from the tent. The a2:)j)earance was still 
in sight, gliding through the camp, and making for the 
plain beyond. Colonel AVilson hastened after it, and at 
so rapid a pace that when his brother officers, roused 
by the sentries, went in pursuit of him, it was with diffi- 
ctilty he was overtaken. The apparition having been 
seen by Captain Wilson only, his comrades concluded 
that it was the effect of slight delirium produced by 
fatisrue. But when the sursjeon of the reo-iment felt 
the colonel's pulse, he declared that it beat steadily, 
without acceleration. 

"Colonel Wilson felt assured that he had received an 
intimation of the death of his friend the missionary, 
who had repeatedly promised, in case he died first, to 
appear to him as a spirit. He requested his brother 
officers to note the time. They did so; and when sub- 
sequent letters from Tellicherrj:' announced the decease 
of Dubois, it was found that he had died at the very 
hour when his likeness appeared to his friend. 

"Desirous to ascertain what efi'ectthis apparition had 
j^roduced on Colonel Wilson's opinions touching a future 
state, I put the question directly to him. 'I think it a 
very curious phenomenon,' he replied, ^not to be ac- 
counted for in the present state of our knowledge, and 
requiring investigation. But it is not sufficient to alter 
my convictions. Some energetic projection from Du- 
bois's brain, at the moment of approaching annihilation, 


might perlui|)8 tsuffice to account for the appearance 
which I undoubtedly witnessed.' "* 

We can scarcely find a stronger proof of the vivid 
reality, to the observer, of this appearance than the 
shift to which he is reduced to explain it. He "un- 
doubtedly witnessed it," he tells us; but, he argues, "it 
might, perhaps, be a projection from Dubois's brain at 
the moment of dissolution." What a loerhaps is this! 
A projection from the brain of a dying man is to appear 
miles away from his dying bed, and, having assumed 
human form, is to imitate human locomotion ! What 
sort of projection ? ISTot a soul or a spiritual body, for 
an atheist admits no such entities, — nothing that inhabits, 
or is to inhabit, a future world of which an atheist 
denies the existence. What then ? A ^^ortion of the 
physical substance of the brain, detached from it, and 
shot off, like some military projectile, from Tellicherry 
to Yellore ? Concede the monstrous assumption. What 
directs it precisely to the friend to whom the owner of 
the brain had promised, in the event of death, to appear 
as a spirit? But suppose it to have arrived at Colonel 
Wilson's tent : what gave a detached portion of a brain 
the power to clothe itself in the complete form of a 
man, with a head and recognizable countenance, with 
arms, legs, a body? — the power, too, to glide away from 
a person pursuing it ? 

But it is sheer waste of time to track to its source 
a hypothesis so preposterous as this. In what a maze 
of absurdity may a man, reputed intelligent, involve 
himself when governed by a settled predetermination 
to ignore the possibility of a future world, where our 

* Extracted from a letter in my possession, addressed to me by Dr. Ash- 
burner, dated No. 7, llyde Park Place, London, March 12, 1859. 


spirits uiLiy hereafter exist, and whence they may 
oocasionally return ! 

IN'arratives of apparitions at or about the moment of 
death are perhaps the most frequent of any. For a 
striking and directly authenticated example of this class 
I am indebted to my friend AVilliam Howitt, whose 
name is almost as familiar on this side of the Atlantic 
as in his own country. I give it in his ovvm words. 


"The circumstance you desire to obtain from me is 
one which I have many times heard related by my 
mother. It was an event familiar to our family and the 
neighborhood, and is connected with my earliest memo- 
ries; having occurred, about the time of my birth, at 
my father's house at Heanor, in Derbyshire, where I 
myself was born. 

"My mother's family name, Tantum, is an uncommon 
one, w^iich I do not recollect to have met wdth except 
in a story of Miss Leslie's. My mother had two 
brothers, Francis and Eichard. The younger, Eichard, 
I knew well, for he lived to an old age. The elder^ 
Francis, w^as, at the time of the occurrence I am about 
to report, a gay young man, about twenty, unmarried; 
handsome, frank, affectionate, and extremely beloved by 
all classes throughout that part of the country. He is 
described, in that age of pow^der and pigtails, as wearing 
his auburn hair flowing in ringlets on his shoulders, like 
another Absalom, and was much admired, as well for 
his personal grace as for the life and gayety of his 

"One fine calm afternoon, my mother, shortly after a 
confinement, but perfectly convalescent, was lying in 
bed, enjoying, from her window, the sense of summer 
beauty and repose; a bright sky above, and the quiet 


374 THE brother's appearance 

village before her. In this sttite she was gladdened by 
hearing footsteps which she took to be those of her 
brother Frank, as he w^as familiarly called, approaching 
the chamber-door. The visitor knocked and entered. 
The foot of the bed was tow^ard the door, and the cur- 
tains at the foot, notwithstanding the season, w^ere 
drawm, to prevent any draught. Her brother parted 
them, and looked in upon her. His gaze was earnest, 
and destitute of its usual cheerfulness, and he spoke not 
a w^ord. ^My dear Frank,' said my mother, ^low glad 
I am to see you! Come round to the bedside: I wish to 
have some talk with you.' 

''He closed the curtains, as complying; but, instead of 
doing so, my mother, to her astonishment, heard him 
leave the room, close the door behind him, and begin to 
descend the stairs. Greatly amazed, she hastily rang, 
and when her maid appeared she bade her call her 
brother back. The girl replied that she had not seen 
him enter the house. But my mother insisted, saying, 
'He was here but this instant. Eun ! quick I Call him 
back ! I must see him.' 

" The girl hurried away, but, after a time, returned, 
saying that she could learn nothing of him anyw^here; 
nor had any one in or about the house seen him either 
enter or depart. 

" Now, my father's house stood at the bottom of the 
village, and close to the highroad, which was quite 
straight; so that any one passing along it must have 
been seen for a much longer period than had elapsed. 
The girl said she had looked up and down the road, then 
searched the garden, — a large, old-fashioned one, with 
shady walks. But neither in the garden nor on the 
road was he to be seen. She had inquired at the nearest 
cottages in the village; but no one had noticed him pass. 

"My mother, though a very pious woman, was far 
from superstitious; yet the strangeness of this circum- 


Stance struck her forcibly. While she lay pondering 
upon it, there was heard a sudden running and excited 
talking in the village street. My mother listened : it 
increased, though up to that time the village had been 
profoundly still ; and she became convinced that some- 
thing vcr}' unusual had occurred. Again she rang the 
bell, to inquire the cause of the disturbance. This time 
it was the monthly nurse who answered it. She sought 
to tranquilize my mother, as a nurse usually does a 
patient. ^Oh, it is nothing particular, ma'am,' she said, 
* some trifling aflfair,' — which she jDretended to relate, 
passing lightly over the particulars. But her ill-sup- 
pressed agitation did not escape my mother's eye. ' Tell 
me the truth,' she said, 'at once. I am certain some- 
thing very sad has happened.' The woman still equivo- 
cated, greatly fearing the efl'ect upon my mother in her 
then situation. And at first the family joined in the at- 
tempt at concealment. Finally, however, my mother's 
alarm and earnest entreaties drew from them the ter- 
rible truth that her brother had just been stabbed at 
the top of the village, and killed on the spot. 

" The melancholy event had thus occurred. My 
uncle, Francis Tantum, had been dining at Shipley Hall, 
with Mr. Edward Miller Mundy, member of Parliament 
for the county. Shipley Hall lay off to the right of the 
village as you looked up the main street from my 
father's house, and about a mile distant from it; while 
Heanor Hall, my uncle's residence, was situated to the 
right; the road from the one country-seat to the other 
crossing, nearly at right angles, the upper portion of the 
village street, at a point where stood one of the tAvo 
village inns, the Admiral Eodney, respectably kept by 
the widow H ks. I remember her well, — a tall, fine- 
looking woman, who must have been handsome in her 
youth, and who retained, even past middle age, an air 
superior to her condition. She had one only child, a son, 


then scarce!}' twenty. lie was a good-looking, brisk 
young fellow, and bore a very fair character. Ho must, 
however, as the event showed, have been of a very hasty 

" Francis Tantum, riding home from Shipley Hall after 
the early country dinner of that day, somewhat elate, it 
may be, with wine, stopped at the widow's inn and bade 
the son bring him a glass of ale. As the latter turned 
to obey, my uncle, giving the youth a smart switch 
across the back with his riding- whip, cried out, in his 
lively, joking way, ']S"ow be quick, Dick ; be quick !' 

'' The young man, instead of receiving the playful 
stroke as a jest, took it as an insult. He rushed into 
the house, snatched up a carving-knife, and, darting back 
into the street, stabbed my uncle to the heart, as he sat 
on his horse, so that he fell dead, on the instant, in the 

"The sensation throughout the quiet village may be 
imagined. The inhabitants, who idolized the murdered 
man, were prevented from taking summary vengeance 
on the homicide only by the constables carrying him 
off to the office of the nearest magistrate. 

"Young H ks was tried at the next Derby assizes; 

but (justly, no doubt, taking into view the sudden irri- 
tation caused by the blow) he was convicted of man- 
slaughter only, and, after a few months' imprisonment, 
returned to the village; where, notwithstanding the 
strong popular feeling against him, he continued to keep 
the inn, even after his mother's death. He is still pre- 
sent to my recollection, a quiet, retiring man, never 
guilty of any other irregularity of conduct, and seeming 
to bear about with him the constant memory of his rash 
deed, — a silent blight upon his life. 

"So great was the respect entertained for my uncle, 
and such the deep impression of his tragic end, that so 
lono: as that generation lived the church-bells of tlie 


village were reguhirly tolled on the anniversary oi' Ium 

"On comparing the circumstances and the exact time 
at which each occurred, the fact was substantiated that 
the apparition presented itself to my mother almost in- 
stantly after her brother had received the fatal stroke/'* 

Almost the only desirable condition left unfulfilled in 
the preceding narrative is that more than one person, and 
each influenced indejDendently, should have witnessed 
the apparition. This additional voucher is supplied in 
the following. 


The late Lord M , having gone to the Highlands 

about the end of the last century, left his wife perfectly 
well in London. The night of his arrival at his High- 
land home, he was awakened by seeing a bright light in 
his room. The curtains of his bed opened, and he saw 

the appearance of Lady M standing there. He rang 

for his servant, and inquired of him what he saw; upon 
which the man exclaimed, in terror, "It's my lady!" 

Lady M had died suddenly in London that night. 

The story made a great noise at the time; and George 

the Third, sending for Lord M and ascertaining 

from him the truth of it, desired him to write out the 
circumstances as the}^ happened; and the servant coun- 
tersigned the statement. 

About a year afterward, a child five years old, the 
youngest daughter of Lord M — — , rushed breathlessly 
into the nursery, exclaiming, "I have seen mamma 
standing at the top of the stair and beckoning to me.'' 

That night the child, little Arabella M , was taken ill, 

and died. 

*• Extracted from a letter addressed to me by Mr. Howitt, dated High- 
gate, March 28, 1859. 



I can vouch, in an unqualified manner, for the authen- 
ticity of both the above circumstances; having received 

the account, in ^vriting, from a member of Lord M 's 


In the following example the testimony of two wit- 
nesses to the same apparition is obtained under circum- 
stances quite as conclusive. It was related to me in 
Kaples, January 2, 1857, by one of these witnesses, (an 
intelligent English lady, of highly respectable family, 
who had S])ent many years in Eussia,) as follows. 


In the early part of the year 1856, Mrs. F resided 

for some months in the family of Prince , a noble- 
man who had occupied a high official position under the 
Emperor Nicholas. 

One evening, between eleven and twelve, Mrs. F 

was in a small cabinet adjoining the bedroom of the 

Princess and separated from it by hangings only, 

when she heard the door of the bedchamber open, and the 
princess (as she supposed) enter the room, set down her 
candle, and walk about. Expecting her to come into 
the cabinet, as w^as her wont, she waited; but in vain. 
Then she heard her again open the door and descend 
the stairs. Some twenty minutes afterward, steps re- 
ascended the stairs, and the princess herself entered 

.and spoke to her. Mrs. F ascertained, to her surprise, 

that the princess had not been in her room before ; yet 

the latter testified no astonishment w^hen Mrs. F 

mentioned what she had heard. 

Learning, next morning, that the lady's maid had not 
entered the room, and that no one else had access to it, 
Mrs. F again adverted to the extraordinary occur- 
rence ; and the princess told her frankly, what Mrs. F 

then learned for the first time, that they were accustomed 

LOUISE. 379 

to such mysterious visits; that they eommoDly portended 
some unusual occurrence in the family ; and that her 
husband had disposed of a palace they formerly owned 
in another street, for no other reason than to endeavor 
to escape the repeated noises and other disturbances 
by which they had been there tormented. One of 
these was the frequent sounding of heavy steps, during 
the dead of night, along a certain corridor. The prince 
had re^^eatedly, during the occurrence of these sounds, 
caused every egress from the corridor in question to be 
closed and guarded; but in vain. Ko solution of the 
mystery was ever obtained. 

The princess added that to their new palace, in which 
they then were, and the windows of which looked out 
on the beautiful Neva, the noises had followed them, 
occurring at intervals. One of her daughters, previous 
to her marriage, had constantly experienced the sensa- 
tion as of some one approaching her side, preceded hy 
the tread of steps and what seemed the rustling of a silk 
dress, and sometimes accomj)anied by the sound as of 
water poured on the table. 

At this time there was in the house a femme-de- 
chambre named Louise, a young German girl of resj^ect- 
able family, cultivated much beyond the station she 
then occupied, and which she had been induced to 
accept in consequence of a disappointment in love pro- 
duced by the obstinate opposition of the young man's 
relatives to the proposed match. In consequence of 
her obliging, cheerful disposition, and her intelligence, 
she was a great favorite in the household, particularly 
with Mrs. F , whom she had nursed during an illness. 

When, subsequently, she lierself fell ill, much interest 

was felt for her by all the family, and Mrs. F was 

frequently at her bedside. 

One evening the family physician, after visiting Louise, 
reported that she was doing very well, and would doubt- 


loss recover; so that Mrs. F retired to rest with- 
out any anxietj'" on her account. 

About two o'clock that ni<^ht she w^as disturbed by 
the feeling as of something touching her; and, thinking 
it to be a rat, she became thoroughly aw^ake with the 
fright. Then she felt, most distinctly, the touch as it 
were of a human hand pressing gently on different parts 
of her body and limbs. The sensation was so positive 
and unmistakable that she became convinced there w^as 
some one in the room. But she could see or hear nothing ; 
and after a time it ceased. The next morning the servant 
awoke her with the intelligence that Louise had died 
suddenly about two o'clock the preceding night. 

The girl's effects, including her clothes and letters, 
(some of them from her lover, who still cherished affection 
for her,) together with her lover's portrait, were collected 
together and placed, until they should be claimed by 
her famil^^, not in the room in w^hich she died, but in 
another, which became the bedroom of the femme-de- 
chambre who succeeded her. 

As the family had frequently lost their servants through 
terror of the mysterious disturbances, they took mea- 
sures to prevent the report of these from reaching this 
w^oman's ears. She heard, however, at various times, 
disturbing noises at night, and declared that on several 
occasions she had distinctly seen move silently across 
the floor a form, her description of which tallied exactly 
with the usual appearance of poor Louise, w^hom in life 
she had never seen. This apparition caused her to ask 
if it was not the room in w^hich her predecessor had 
died. But being reassured on that 2:>oint, and having 
boasted, when the noises first occurred, that no ghost 
could inspire her w^ith any fear, she was ashamed of 
yielding to her wish to sleep with one of the servant- 
girls, and continued to occupy her own bedroom. 

Some five weeks after the death of Louise, and a few 


minutes after midnight, Mrs. F had ascended the 

stairs with a candle ; and, as she reached the landing, a. 
dim form flitted suddenly past from left to right, — not 
so rapidly, however, but that she could distinguish that 
it was transparent ; for she distinctly perceived through, 
it the opposite window. As she passed her hands over 
her eyes, — the thought flashing across her mind that this 
might be a hallucination only, — she was startled by a 
violent scream as of agony from the bedroom of the 
femrae-de-chambre, situated on the left of the stair- 
landing. The scream was so loud that it aroused the 

household, and Princess and others hastened with 

Mrs. F to ascertain its cause. They found the maid 

in violent convulsions; and w^hen, after some time, they 
recovered her, she declared, in accents of extreme terror, 
that the figure she had already several times seen had ap- 
peared to her in the most distinct form, approached the 
bed and bent over her, so that she seemed to feel its 
very breath and touch, upon which she lost conscious- 
ness and knew not what happened further. She could 
not be persuaded again to sleep in that room; and the 
disturbances continued there after she left it. 

But, after a time, the young man who had been en- 
gaged to Louise wrote for her efl'ects, requesting that 
they might be sent home, overland, at his expense. The 
new femme-de-chambre assisted in packing them. In 
taking up one of Louise's dresses, she dropped it in sudden 
terror, declaring that in exactly such a dress had the 
figure been clothed that bent over her when she swooned 

From the day these effects were taken from the room 
where they had been placed, and sent oft^, all noises and 
disturbances therein entirely ceased.* 

* I read over the above Earrallve to Mrs. F , made a few corrections 

at her suggestion, and then she assented to its accuracy in every particular 


We are gnidimlly reaching a point in this series of 
narratives at which it becomes very difficult to exphiiu 
away the phenomena they embrace, or to account for 
these on any other than the spiritual hypothesis. In 
the preceding example, for instance, wduit can possibly 
explain the coincident visions of Louise's successor and 

Mrs. F , except the supposition of an objective 

reality ? 

We find narratives as conclusive as the above current 
throughout society, — usually discredited by superficial 
commentators, — sometimes justly, for many of them are 
apocryphal enough; sometimes, as I believe, unjustly. 

1 select, as a specimen of this latter class, from 
among what are called modern ghost-stories, one wdiich, 
on account of the rank and character of the two seers, 
(Sir John Sherbroke and General Wynyard,) has been 
as much talked of throughout England as perhaps any 
other. It was published in the newspapers of the day ; 
and the narrative, in a somew^hat diffuse form, has been 
preserved in at least one modern publication.* It is 
alluded to, but the initials only given, in Archdeacon 
Wrangham's edition of Plutarch, in a note, thus : — ^' A 
very singular story, however, could be told on this head 

by Generals S and W , both men of indisputable 

honor and spirit, and honorably distinguished by their 
exertions in their country's service." It is related, in a 
succinct manner, by Dr. Mayo in his work on Popular 
Superstitions; and he accompanies it with the follow^ing 
voucher: — "I have had opportunities of inquiring of 
two near relations of General Wynyard upon w^hat evi- 
dence the above story rests. The}' told me they had 
each heard it from his own mouth. More recently a gen- 
tleman whose accuracy of information exceeds that of 
most people told me that he had heard the late Sir 

* "Signs be/ore Death," coUeeted by Horace "Welby, London, 1S25, pp 
77 to 82. 


John Sherbroke, the other party in the ghost-story, tell 
it, much in the same way, at a dinner-table."* The story 
is as follows : — 


In the year 1785, Sir John Sherbroke and General 
Wjmj'ard, then young men, were officers in the same 
resriment, stationed at that time in Canada. 

On the 15th of October of that year, about four 
o'clock P.M., — therefore in broad daylight, — these two 
young officers were seated, engaged in study, in Wyn- 
yard's parlor. It was a room in a block-house, with 
two doors, — the one opening on an outer passage, the 
other into that officer's bedroom, from which bedroom 
there was no exit except by returning through the 

Sherbroke, happening to look up from his book, saw 
beside the door which opened on the passage the figure 
of a tall youth, apparently about twenty years of age, 
but pale and much emaciated. Astonished at the 
presence of a stranger, Sherbroke called the attention 
of his brother officer, sitting near him, to the visitor. 
•^^I have heard," he said, in afterward relating the 
incident, "of a man's being as pale as death; but I 
never saw a living face assume the appearance of a 
corpse except Wynyard's at that moment." Both re- 
mained silently gazing on the figure as it j^^ssed 
slowly through the room and entered the bed-chamber, 
casting on young Wynyard, as it passed, a look, as 
his friend thought, of melancholy aifection. The 
oppression of its presence was no sooner removed 
than Wynyard, grasping his friend's arm, exclaimed, 

* " On the Truths contained in Pojynlar Superstitions," by Herbert Mayo, 
M.B., Professor of Anatomy and Physiology in King's College, &c. &c., 
3d ed., Edinburgh and London, 1851, pp. 6.3, 61, 


in scarcely arLicukito tones, " Great God ! my bro- 

"Your brother! What can you mean?" replied Sher- 
broke: " there must be some deception in this." And 
Avith that he instantly proceeded into the bedroom, fol- 
lowed by AY3^n3'ard. Ko one to be seen there! They 
searched in every part, and convinced themselves that 
it was entirely untenanted. Wynyard persisted in de- 
claring that he AatZ seen his brother's sj^irit; but Sher- 
broke inclined to the belief that they might have been, 
in some way or other, deluded, possibly by a trick of a 
brother officer. 

Nevertheless, both waited with great anxiety for 
letters from England; and this anxiety at last became 
so apparent on Wynyard's jDart that his brother officers, 
in spite of his resolution to the contrary, finally won 
from him the confession of what he had seen. The 
story w^as soon bruited abroad, and produced great 
excitement throughout the regiment. When the ex- 
pected vessel with letters arrived, there were none for 
Wynyard, but one for Sher broke. As soon as that 
officer had opened it, he beckoned Wynyard from the 
room. Expectation was at its climax, especially as the 
two friends remained closeted for an hour. On Sher- 
broke's return the mystery was solved. It was a letter 
from a brother officer, begging Sherbroke to break 
to his friend Wynj^ard the news of the death of his fa- 
vorite brother, who had expired on the 15th of October, 
and at the same hour at which the friends saw the ap- 
parition in the block-house. 

It remains to be stated that, some years afterward, 
Sir John Sherbroke, then returned to England, was 
walking in Piccadill}'^, London, when, on the opposite 
side of the street, he saw a gentleman whom he in- 
stantly recognized as the counterpart of the mysterious 
visitor. Crossing over, he accosted him, ajwlogizing 


for his intrusion, and learned that he was a brother 
(not the twin brother, as some accounts have it) of 

Such is the story; for the truth of which I have been 
fortunate enough to obtain vouchers additional to those 
already given. 

Captain Henry Scott, E.N"., residing at Blackheath, 
near London, and with whom I have the pleasure of 
being acquainted, was, about thirty years ago, when 
Sir John Sherbroke was Governor of ISTova Scotia, 
under his command as Assistant Surveyor-General of 
that province; and dining, one day, with Sir John, a 
guest remarked that an English newspaper, just re- 
ceived, had a most extraordinary ghost-story, in 
which his (Sir John's) name appeared. Thereupon 
Sherbroke, with much emotion, quickly replied, '^ I 
beg that the subject may not again be mentioned.'' 
The impression on the minds of all present was, 
that he considered the matter too serious to be 
talked of 

Eut we are not left to mere inference, suggested by 
this indirect testimony. I communicated to Captain 
Scott, in manuscript, the above narrative; and, in re- 
turning it, that gentleman wrote to me, with permission 
to use his name, as follows : — 

"About six years ago, dining alone with my dear 
friend — now gone to his account — General Paul An- 
derson, C.B., I related to him the story of the Wyn- 
yard apparition, in substance exactly as you have it. 
TVhen I had finished, 'It is extraordinary enough,' 
said he, 'that you have related that story almost ver- 
hatim as I had it from Sir John Sherbroke' s own lips a 
short time before his death.'* I asked the general 

* His death is noticed in Blackwood's Magazine for June, 1830. 
2 ' 33 


whether Sir John had expressed any opinion about the 

" *Yes/ he replied: 'he assured me^ in the most 
solemn manner, that he believed the appearance to 
have been a ghost or spirit; and added that this 
belief was shared by his friend Wynyard.^ 

" General Anderson was a distinguished Penin- 
sular AYar officer, a major under Sir John Moore, and 
one of those wdio assisted to bury that gallant 

It will not, I think, be questioned that this evidence 
is as direct and satisfactory as can well be, short of a 
record left in writing by one or other of the seers, — 
which it does not appear is to be found. Sir John 
Shcrbroke, when forty years had passed hy, re2)eats to 
a brother officer his unaltered conviction that it ivas 
the spirit of his friend's brother-)" that appeared to 
them in the Canadian block-house, and that that friend 
was as fully convinced of the fact as himself. 

Strongly corroborative, also, is the fiict that so 
deeply imprinted in Sherbroke's memory were the 
features of the apparition that the recollection called 
up, after the lapse of years, by the appearance of a 
stranger casually met in the streets of London, caused 
him to accost that stranger, who proved to be a brother 
of the deceased. 

In the following we find an example of three per- 
sons seeing the same apparition, though at different 
times : — 

* Extracted from letter of Captain Henry Scott to me, dated January 
26, 1859. 

f The brother's name was John Otway Wynyard ; and he was at the 
time of his death on the 15th of October, 1785, Lieutenant in the 3d llegi- 
ment of Life-Guards. 



In ]\Iarcli of the year 1854, the Baron de Gulden- 
atiibbe was residing alone in apartments, at Xumber 23 
Rue St. Lazare, Paris. 

On the 16th of that month, returning thither from 
an evening-party, after midnight, he retired to rest; 
but, finding himself unable to sleep, he lit a candle 
and began to read. Yery soon his attention was drawn 
from the book by experiencing first one electric shock, 
then another, until the sensation was eight or ten times 
repeated. This greatly surprised him and effectually 
precluded all disposition to sleep : he rose, donned a 
warm dressing-gown, and lit a fire in the adjoining 

Eeturning a few minutes afterward, without a candle, 
in search of a pocket-handkerchief, to the bedroom, he 
observed, by light coming through the open door of the 
saloon, just before the chimney, (which was situated in 
a corner of the room, at the opposite diagonal from the 
entrance-door,) what seemed like a dim column of 
grayish vapor, slightly luminous. It attracted his 
notice for a moment; but, deeming it merely some 
efi'ect of reflected light from the lamps in the court- 
yard, he thought no more of it, and re-entered the 

After a time, as the fire burned badly, he returned 
to the bedchamber, to procure a fagot. This time 
the appearance in front of the fireplace arrested his 
attention. It reached nearly to the ceiling of the 
apartment, which was fully twelve feet high. Its color 
had changed from gray to blue, — that shade of blue 
which shows itself when spirits of wine are burned. It 
was also more distinctly marked, and somewhat more 
luminous, than at first. As the baron gazed at it, in 
some surprise, there gradually grew into sight, within 


it, the figure of a man. The outlines at first were 
vague, and the color blue, like the column, only of a 
darker shade. The baron looked upon it as a hallucina- 
tion, but continued to examine it steadily from a dis- 
tance of some thirteen or fourteen feet. 

Gradually the outlines of the figure became marked, 
the features began to assume exact form, and the whole 
to take the colors of the human flesh and dress. Finally 
there stood within the column, and reaching about half- 
way to the top, the figure of a tall, portly old man, with 
a fresh color, blue eyes, snow-white hair, thin white 
whiskers, but without beard or moustache ; and dressed 
with some care. He seemed to Avear a white cravat 
and long white waistcoat, high stiff shirt-collar, and a 
long black frock-coat, thrown back from his chest, as is 
the wont of corpulent people like him in hot weather. 
He appeared to lean on a heavy white cane. 

After a few minutes, the figure detached itself from 
the column and advanced, seeming to float slowly 
through the room, till within about three feet of its 
wondering occupant. There it stop2)ed, put up its hand, 
as in form of salutation, and slightly bowed. 

The baron's impulse when it first approached had been 
to ring the bell. So perfectly distinct was the vision, so 
absolutely material seemed the figure before him, that he 
could scarcely resist the impression that some stranger 
(for the features were wholly unknown to him) had in- 
vaded his apartment. But the age and friendly de- 
meanor of the intruder arrested his hand. Whether 
from this world or the other, there seemed nothing hostile 
or formidable in the appearance that presented itself. 

After a time, the figure moved toward the bed, which 
was to the right of the entrance-door and immediately 
opposite the fireplace, then, turning to the left, returned 
to the spot before the fireplace, where it had first ap- 
peared, then advanced a second time toward the baron. 


And this round it continued to make (stopping, however, 
at intervals) as often as eight or ten times. The baron 
heard no sound, either of voice or footstep. 

The hist time it returned to the firephace, after facing 
the baron, it remained stationary there. By slow 
degrees the outlines lost their distinctness; and, as the 
figure faded, the blue column gradually reformed itself, 
inclosing it as before. This time, however, it was much 
more luminous, — the light being sufiicient to enable the 
baron to distinguish small print, as he ascertained by 
picking up a Bible that lay on his dressing-table and 
reading from it a verse or two. He showed me the 
copy : it was in minion ty23e. Yery gradually the light 
faded, seeming to flicker up at intervals, like a lamp 
dying out. 

From the time the figure appeared until it began to 
fade, mingling with the column, there elapsed about ten 
minutes : so that the witness of this remarkable appari- 
tion had the amplest opportunity fully to examine it. 
When it turned toward the fireplace, he distinctly saw 
its back. He experienced little or no alarm, being 
chiefly occupied during the period of its stay in seeking 
to ascertain whether it was a mere hallucination or an 
objective reality. On one or two previous occasions 
during his life he had seen somewhat similar appari- 
tions, — less distinct, however, and passing aw^ay more 
rapidly; and, as they w^ere of persons whom in life he 
had known, he had regarded them as subjective only; 
the off'spring, probably, of his imagination, during an 
abnormal state of the nervous system. 

Pondering over this matter, he went to bed, and, 
after a time, to sleep. In a dream, the same figure 
he had just seen again appeared to him, dressed exactly 
as before. It seemed to sit down on the side of the 
bed; and, as if in reply to the reflections that had 
been occupying the baron's mind before he retired to 

33* . 


rest, he thought he heard it say to him, in sabstancOj 
'^ Hitherto you have not believed in the reality of appa- 
ritions, considering them only the recallings of memory : 
now, since you have seen a stranger, you cannot con- 
sider it the reproduction of former ideas." The baron 
assented, in dream, to this reasoning; but the phantom 
gave him no clew as to what its name or condition in 
life had been. 

The next morning, meeting the wife of the concierge, 
Madame Matthieu, who had been in the habit of attend- 
ing to his rooms, he inquired of her who had been their 
former occupant, adding that his reason for making the 
inquiry was, that the night before he had seen in his 
bedroom an apparition. At first the woman seemed 
much frightened and little disposed to be communi- 
cative ; but, when pressed on the subject, she admitted 
that the last person who had resided in the apartments 
now occupied by the baron was the father of the lady 
who was the proprietor of the house, — a certain Mon- 
sieur Caron, who had formerly filled the office of mayor 
in the province of Champagne. He had died about two 
years before, and the rooms had remained vacant from 
that time until taken by the baron. 

Her description of him, not only as to personal ap- 
pearance, but in each particular of dress, corresj)onded 
in the minutest manner to what the baron had seen. A 
white waistcoat coming down very low, a white cravat, 
a long black frock-coat : these he habitually wore. His 
stature was above the middle height; and he was cor- 
pulent, his eyes blue, his hair and whiskers white ; and 
he wore neither beard nor moustache. His age was 
between sixty and seventy. Even the smaller pecu- 
liarities were exact, down to the high standing shirt- 
collar, the habit of throwing back his coat from his 
chest, and the thick white cane, his constant companion 
when he went out. 


Madame Mattliieu further confessed to the baron that 
he was not the only one to whom the apparition of M. 
Caron had shown itself On one occasion a maid-servant 
had seen it on the stairs. To herself it had appeared 
several times, — once just in front of the entrance to the 
saloon, again in a dimly-lighted passage that led past 
the bedroom to the kitchen beyond^ and more than 
once in the bedroom itself M. Caron had dropped 
down in the passage referred to, in an apoplectic fit, 
had been carried thence into the bedroom, and had died 
in the bed now occupied by the baron. 

She said to him, further, that, as he might have re- 
marked, she almost always took the opportunity when 
he was in the saloon to arrange his bedchamber, and 
that she had several times intended to apologize to him 
for this, but had refrained, not knowing what excuse to 
make. The true reason w^as that she feared again to 
meet the apparition of the old gentleman. 

The matter finally came to the ears of the daughter, 
the owner of the house. She caused masses to be said 
for the soul of her father; and it is alleged — how truly I 
know not — that the apparition has not been seen in any 
of the apartments since. 

This narrative I had from the Earon de Guldenstubbe 
himself* That gentleman stated to me that, up to the 
time when he saw the apparition, he had never heard of 
M. Caron, and of course had not the slightest idea of his 
personal appearance or dress; nor, as may be supposed, 
had it ever been intimated to him that any one had 
died, two years before, in the room in which he slept. 

The story derives much of its value from the calm 
and dispassionate manner in which the witness appears 
to have observed the succession of phenomena, and the 

* In Paris, on the 11th of May, 1859. 


exact details which, in consequence, he has been enabled 
to furnish. It is remarkable, also, as well for the elec- 
trical influences which preceded the appearance, as on 
account of the correspondence between the apparition 
to the baron in his waking state and that subsequently 
seen in dream; the first cognizable by one sense only, — 
that of sight, — the second appealing (though in vision of 
the night only) to the hearing also. 

The coincidences as to personal peculiarities and de- 
tails of dress are too numerous and minutely exact to 
be fortuitous, let us adopt what theory, in explanation, 
we may. 

This series of narratives would be incomplete with- 
out some examples of those stories of a tragic cast, 
seeming to intimate that the foul dee^s committed in 
this world may call back the criminal, or the victim, 
from another. 

A very extraordinary sample of such stories is given 
m the memoirs of Sir jSI^athaniel Wraxall, a man of some 
distinction in his day, and from 1780 to 1794 a member 
of the British Parliament. It was related to Sir Na- 
thaniel, when on a visit to Dresden, by the Count de 
Felkesheim. Of him Wraxall says, "He was a Livonian 
gentleman, settled in Saxony; of a very improved under- 
standing, equally superior to credulity as to supersti- 
tion.'' The conversation occurred in October, 1778. 

After alluding to the celebrated exhibition, by Schrep- 
fer, of the apparition of the Chevalier de Saxe, and ex- 
pressing his opinion that "though he could not pretend 
to explain by what process or machinery that business 
w^as conducted, yet he had always considered Schrepfer 
as an artful impostor," the count proceeded to say that 
he was not so decidedly skeptical as to the possibility 
of apparitions as to treat them with ridicule or set them 
down as unphilosophical. Educated in the University 


of Konigsbcrg, he had attended the lectures on ethics 
and moral philosoj^hy of a certain professor there, a 
very superior man, but Avho, although an ecclesiastic, 
was suspected of peculiar opinions on religious subjects. 
In effect, when, during his course, the professor touched 
on the doctrine of a future state, his language betrayed 
so visible an embarrassment that the count, his curiosity 
excited, ventured privately to broach the subject to his 
teacher, entreating him to say whether he had held back 
any thing that dwelt on his mind. 

The reply of the professor was embodied in the follow- 
ing strange story. 


"The hesitation which you noticed," said he, "resulted 
from the conflict which takes j)lace within me when 1 
am attempting to convey my ideas on a subject where 
my understanding is at variance with the testimony of 
my senses. I am, equally from reason and reflection, 
disposed to consider with incredulity and contempt the 
existence of apparitions. But an appearance which I 
have witnessed with my own eyes, as far as they or any 
of the perceptions can be confided in, and Avhich has 
even received a sort of subsequent confirmation from 
other circumstances connected with the original facts, 
leaves me in that state of skepticism and suspense which 
pervaded my discourse. I will communicate to you its 

"Having been brought up to the profession of the 
Church, I was presented by Frederick William the First, 
late King of Prussia, to a small benefice, situated in the 
interior of the country, at a considerable distance south 
of Konigsberg. I repaired thither in order to take pos- 
session of my living, and found a neat parsonage-house, 
where I passed the night in a bed-chamber which had 
been occupied by my predecessor. 


"It was in the longest days of summer; and on the 
following morning, -which was Sunday, while lying 
awake, the curtains of the bed being undrawn, and it 
being broad daylight, I beheld the figure of a man, 
habited in a loose gown, standing at a sort of reading- 
desk, on which lay a large book, the leaves of which he 
seemed to turn over at intervals. On each side of him 
stood a little boy, in whose face he looked earnestly 
from time to time; and, as he looked, he seemed always 
to heave a deep sigh. His countenance, pale and dis- 
consolate, indicated some distress of mind. I had the 
most perfect view of these objects; but, being impressed 
with too much terror and apprehension to rise or to 
address mj'self to the appearances before me, I remained 
for some minutes a breathless and silent spectator, with- 
out uttering a word or altering my position. At length 
the man closed the book, and then, taking the two chil- 
dren, one in each hand, he led them slowly across the 
room. My eyes eagerly followed him till the three 
figures gradually disappeared, or were lost, behind an 
iron stove which stood at the farthest corner of the 

" HoAvever deeply and awfully I was affected by the 
sight which I had witnessed, and however incapable I 
was of explaining it to my own satisfaction, yet I re- 
covered sufficiently the possession of my mind to get 
up; and, having hastilj^ dressed myself, I left the house. 
The sun was long risen; and, directing my steps to the 
church, I found that it was open, though the sexton had 
quitted it. On entering the chancel, my mind and imagi- 
nation were so strongly impressed by the scene which 
had recently passed, that I endeavored to dissipate the 
recollection by considering the objects around me. In 
almost all liUtheran churches of the Prussian dominions 
it is the custom to hang up against the walls, or some 
part of the building, the portraits of the successive pas- 


tors or clergymen who have held the living. A number 
of these paintings, rudely performed, were suspended in 
one of the aisles. But I had no sooner fixed my eyes 
on the last in the range, which w^as the portrait of my 
immediate predecessor, than they became riveted on the 
object; for I instantly recognized the same face which 
I had beheld in my bed-chamber, though not clouded by 
the same deep impression of melancholy and distress. 

^^The sexton entered as I was still contemplating this 
interesting head, and I immediately began a conversa- 
tion wdth him on the subject of the persons who had 
preceded me in the living. He remembered several in- 
cumbents, concerning whom, respectively, I made various 
inquiries, till I concluded by the last, relative to w^hose 
history I was particularly inquisitive, HVe considered 
him,' said the sexton, ^as one of the most learned and 
amiable men who have ever resided among us. His 
character and benevolence endeared him to all his 
parishioners, who will long lament his loss. But he was 
carried off in the middle of his days by a lingering ill- 
ness, the cause of which has given rise to many unplea- 
sant reports among us, and which still form matter of 
conjecture. It is, however, commonly believed that he 
died of a broken heart.' 

"My curiosity being still more warmly excited by the 
mention of this circumstance, I eagerly pressed him to 
disclose to me all he knew, or had heard, on the subject. 
^JS'othing respecting it,' answered he, 'is absolutely 
known; but scandal has propagated a story of his 
having formed a criminal connection with a young 
woman of the neighborhood, by whom, it was even 
asserted, he had two sons. As confirmation of the re- 
port, I know that there certainly were two children 
who have been seen at the parsonage, — boys, of about 
four or five years old; but they suddenly disaj^peared 
some time before the decease of their supposed father; 


though to what place they were sent, or what is become 
of them, we are wholly ignorant. It is equally certain 
that the surmises and unfavorable opinions formed re- 
specting this mysterious business, which must neces- 
sarily have reached him, precipitated, if they did not 
joroduce, the disorder of which our late pastor died : but 
he is gone to his account, and we are bound to think 
charitably of the departed.^ 

"It is unnecessary to say with what emotion I listened 
to this relation, which recalled to my imagination, and 
seemed to give proof of the existence of, all that I had 
seen. Yet, unwilling to suifer my mind to become 
enslaved by phantoms which might have been the effect 
of error or deception, I neither communicated to tho 
sexton the circumstances which I had witnessed, nor 
even permitted myself to quit the chamber where it 
had taken place. I continued to lodge there, without 
ever witnessing any similar appearance; and the recollec- 
tion itself began to wear away as the autumn advanced. 

"When the approach of winter made it necessary to 
light fires throughout the house, I ordered the iron 
stove which stood in the room, and behind which the 
figure which I had beheld, together with the two boys, 
seemed to disappear, to be heated, for the purpose of 
Tvarming the apartment. Some difficulty was ex- 
perienced in making the attempt, the stove not only 
smoking intolerably, but emitting an offensive smell. 
Having, therefore, sent, for a blacksmith to inspect and 
repair it, he discovered, in the inside, at the farthest 
extremity, the bones of two small human bodies, corre- 
sponding in size witk, the descrij)tion given me by the 
sexton of the two boys who had been seen at the 

" This last circumstance completed my astonishment, 
and appeared to confer a sort of reality on an appear- 
ance which might otherwise have been considered 


as a delusion of the senses. I resigned the living, 
quitted the place, and retired to Konigsberg; but it has 
produced on my mind the deepest impression, and has, 
in its effect, given rise to that uncertainty and contra- 
diction of sentiment which you remarked in my late 
discourse. ^^* 

Wraxall adds, "Such was Count Felkesheim's story, 
which, from its singularity, appeared to me deserving 
of commemoration, in whatever contempt we may hold 
similar anecdotes.'^ 

If this narrative, and the intimations it conveys, may 
be trusted to, what a glimpse do thesedisplay of a species 
of future punishment speedy and inevitable I — inevitable 
so long as wickedness inheres in wicked deeds, unless 
conscience dies with the body. But conscience is an 
attribute of the immortal spirit, not of the perishable 
frame. And if, in very truth, from the world beyond 
it drags down the evil-doer to the earthly scene of his 
misdeeds, how false is our phrase, when, in speaking of 
a murderer who has eluded justice, we say he has es- 
caped punishment ! His deed dies not. Even if no 
vengeful arm of an offended Deit}^ requite the wrong, 
the wrong may requite itself. Even in the case of some 
hardened criminal, when the soul, dulled to dogged care- 
lessness during its connection with an obtuse and de- 
graded physical organization, remains impervious, while 
life lasts, to the stings of conscience, death, removing 
the hard shell, may expose to sensitiveness and to suffer- 
ing the disengaged spirit. 

There are intimations, however, somewhat similar in 
general character to the above, which seem to teach us 
that even in the next world repentance, by its regene- 

*■ ''Historical Memoirsof w\] Oicn Time," by Sir N. William Wraxall, Bart., 
London, 1815, pp. 218 to 226. 



rating influence^ ma}^ gradually change the character 
and the condition of the criminal ; and I shall not be 
deterred from bringing forward an example, in illustra- 
tion, by the fear of being charged with Eoman Catholic 
leanings. Eclecticism is true philosophy. 

The example to which I refer is one adduced and 
vouched for by Dr. Kerner, and to which, in part, he 
could testify from personal observation. It is the his- 
tory of the same apparition, already briefly alluded to,* 
as one, the appearance of which to Madame Hauffe was 
uniformly heralded by knockings, or rappings, audible 
to all. I entitle it 


The apparition first presented itself to Madame Hauffe 
during the winter of 1824-25, one morning at nine 
o'clock, while she was at her devotions. It was that of 
a swarthy man, of small stature, his head somewhat 
drooping, his countenance wrinkled as with age, clad in 
a dark monk's frock. He looked hard at her, in silence. 
She experienced a shuddering sensation as she returned 
his gaze, and hastily left the room. 

The next day, and almost daily during an entire year, 
the figure returned, usually appearing at seven o'clock 
in the evening, which was Madame Hauffe's wonted 
hour of prayer. On his second appearance he spoke to 
her, saying he had come to her for comfort and instruc- 
tion. "Treat me as a child," he said, "and teach me 
religion." With especial entreaty, he begged of her 
that she would pray with him. Subsequently he con- 
fessed to her that he had the burden of a murder and 
of other grievous sins on his soul ; that he had wandered 

*• See Book III. chap. 2, " The Seeress of Prevorst." The circumftances, 
as already stated, occurred near Lbwenstcin, in the kingdom of Wurtem- 
berg. Dr. Kerner and the seeress and her family were Protestants. 


restlessly for long years, and had never yet been able 
to address himself to prayer. 

She complied with his request; and from time to 
time throughout the long period that he continued to 
appear to her she instructed him in religious matters, 
and he joined with her in her devotions. 

One evening, at the usual hour, there appeared with 
him the figure of a woman, tall and meager, bearing in 
her arms a child that seemed to have just died. She 
kneeled down with him, and prayed also. This female 
figure had once before appeared to the seeress; and her 
coming was usually preceded by sounds similar to those 
obtained from a steel triangle. 

Sometimes she saw" the man's figure during her walks 
abroad. It seemed to glide before her. On one occasion 
she had been on a visit to Gronau with her parents and 
her brothers and sisters; and ere she reached home the 
clock struck seven. Of a sudden she began to run; and 
when they hastened after her to inquire the cause, she 
exclaimed, " The spirit is gliding before and entreating 
my prayers." As they passed hastily along, the family 
distinctly heard a clapping, as of hands, seeming to 
come from the air before them; sometimes it was a 
knocking as on the walls of the houses which they 
happened to pass. When they reached home, a clap- 
ping of hands sounded before them as they ascended 
the stairs. The seeress hastened to her chamber; and 
there, as if on bended knees, the spirit prayed with her 
as usual. 

The longer she conversed with him, and the oftener 
he came for prayer, the lighter and more cheerful and 
friendly did his countenance become. When their de- 
votions were over, he was wont to say, "JSTow the sun 
rises !" or, "j^ow I feel the sun shining within me I" 

One day she asked him whether he could hear other 
persons speak as well as herself "I can hear them 


through you," was his reply. "How so?" she inquired. 
And he answered, "Because when you hear others 
speak you think of what you hear; and I can read 
your thoughts." 

It was observed that, as often as this spirit appeared, 
a blacii terrier that was kept in the house seemed to be 
sensible of its presence; for no sooner was the figure 
perceptible to the seeress than the dog ran, as if for 
protection, to some one present, often howling loudly; 
and after his first sight of it he would never remain alone 
of nights. 

One night this apparition presented itself to Madame 
Hauffe and said, "I shall not come to you for a week; 
for your guardian spirit is occupied elsewhere. Some- 
thing important is about to happen in your family: you 
will hear of it next Wednesday." 

This was repeated by Madame Hauffe to her family 
the next morning. Wednesday came, and with it a letter 
informing them that the seeress's grandfather, of whose 
illness they had not even been previously informed, was 
dead. The apparition did not show itself again till the 
end of the week. 

The ^'guardian spirit" spoken of by the apparition 
frequently appeared to the seeress, in the form of 
her grandmother, the deceased wife of him who had 
just died, and alleged that it was her grandmother's 
spirit, and that it constantly watched over her. When 
the spirit of the self-confessed murderer reappeared, 
after the intermission of a week, she asked him why 
her guardian sj^irit had deserted her in these last days. 
To which he replied, "Because she was occupied by the 
dying-bed of the recently deceased." He added, "I 
have advanced so far that I saw the spirit of your rela- 
tive soon after his death enter a beautifid valley. I 
shall soon be allowed to enter it myself" 

Madame Hauffe's mother never saw the apparition, 


nor did her sister. But both, at the times when the 
spirit appeared to the seeress, frequently felt the sensa- 
tion as of a breeze blowing upon them. 

A friend of the family, a certain forest-ranger, named 
Boheim, would not believe in the apparition, and wished 
to be present with Madame Ilauffe at the usual hour 
when it came. lie and she were alone in the room. 
When a few minutes had elapsed, they heard the custom- 
ary rappings, and, shortly after, the sound as of a body 
falling. They entered, and found Boheim in a swoon on 
the floo'" When he recovered, he told them that, soon 
after tne rappings commenced, there formed itself, in the 
corner against the w^all, a gray cloud ; that this cloud 
gradually approached the seeress and himself; and when 
it came quite near it assumed human form. It was be- 
tween him and the door, so as, apparently, to bar egress. 
He had returned to consciousness when aid arrived, and 
he was astonished to see persons pass through the figure 
without seemino; to notice it. 

At the expiration of about a year from the time of its 
first appearance, — namely, on the evening of the 5th of 
January, 1826, — the spirit said to the seeress, " I shall soon 
leave you altogether.^' And he thanked her for all the 
aid and instruction she had given him, and for her 
prayers. The next day (January 6, thedayher child 
was christened) he appeared to her for the last time. A 
servant-girl who was with the seeress at the moment 
saw and heard (to her astonishment) the door open and 
close ; but it was the seeress alone who saw^ the appari- 
tion enter ; and she said nothing to the girl about it. 

Afterward, at the christening, Madame Ilauffe's father 
distinctly perceived the same figure, looking bright and 
pleasant. And going presently into an ante-chamber, 
he also saw the apparition of the tall, thin, melancholy 
woman, w^th the child on her arm. After this day 
neither of the figures ever appeared to the seeress. 
2 A 34«- 


But the fact most strikingly corroborative of all 
remains to be told. At the instigation of the seeress, 
they dug, at a spot designated by her, in the yard back 
of the house, near the kitchen, and there, at a con- 
siderable depth, tliey found the skeleton and other remains 
of a small child/^ 

A single narrative is insufficient proof of a novel 
theory ; and by many the theory will be deemed novel 
which assumes that the hope of improvement dies not 
with the body, that beyond the tomb, as on this side 
of it, progress is the great ruling principle, and that not 
only may we occasionally receive communications from 
the denizens of another w^orld, but, under certain cir- 
cumstances, may sometimes impart to them comfort and 
instruction in return. 

I do not find, however, either from analogy, in Scripture, 
or elsewhere, any j^resumptive evidence going to disprove 
such a hypothesis. f The narrative, so far as it goes, 
sustains it. All that can be said is, that other coinciding 
proofs are needed before it can be rationally alleged that 

* "Die Seherin von Prevorst," by Justinus Kerner, 4th edition, Stuttgart 
and Tubingen, 1846, pp. 367 to 374. 

-(■ In a subsequent chapter (on the Change at Death) I shall have occasion 
to speak of the doctrine — vaguely conceived by the ancients, adopted in 
somewhat more definite form by the Jews, and universally received by early 
Christians — of what is commonly called a mediate state after death, — a state 
where instruction may still be received, where repentance may still do its 
work, and where the errors of the present life may be corrected in a life to 

Several of the early Christian Fathers held to the opinion that the gospel 
was preached, both by Christ and his apostles, to the dead as well as to tho 
living : among them, Origen and Clement of Alexandria. The latter ex- 
claims, " What ! do not the Scriptures manifest that the Lord preached tho 
gospel to those who perished in the deluge, or rather to such as had been 
bound, and to those in prison and in custody ? It has been shown to me 
that the apostles, in imitation of the Lord, preached the gospel to those in 
Hades." — Quoted hy Sears, " Forcgleams of Immortality," p. 264. 


we have obtained such an aggregation of evidence as 
may be pronounced conclusive. 

It is none the less to be conceded that Kerner's story 
bears strong marks of authenticity. The good faith of 
the author has scarcely been questioned even by his 
opponents. His opportunities for observation were 
almost without precedent. " I visited Madame Ilauffe, 
as physician/' he tells us, "probably three thousand 
times. I frequently remained by her sick-bed hours at 
a time; I knew her surroundings better than she did 
herself; and I took unspeakable pains to follow up 
every rumor or suggestion of trickery, without ever de- 
tecting the slightest trace of any deception."* 

It is to be remarked, also, that in this example there 
are many strongly corroborative circumstances, beyond 
the j)erceptious of the seeress, — the knockings and clap- 
pings, heard by all; the cool breeze felt by her mother 
and sister; the terror of the dog; the fulfillment of the 
prophecy, communicated beforehand to her family, in 
connection with the grandfather's death. Add to this 
that the same apparition was seen, at different times, by 
three persons, — by Madame Ilauffe, by her father, and 
by Herr Boheim. ISTames, dates, places, every minute 
incident is given. The narrative was published, on the 
spot, at the time. Sixteen years afterward, on the 
issuing of the fourth edition of his work. Dr. Kerner re- 
iterates in the most solemn manner his conviction of its 

It is in vain to assert that we ought to pass lightly by 
such testimony as this. 

In the two preceding narratives, the incidents of 
which seem to indicate the return of the evil-doer's 

* " Seherin von Prevorst" p. 32-1. The entire wcirk will well repay a 
careful perusal. 


spirit to the scene of his evil deed, the deed was one of 
the greatest of earthly crimes, — murder. But we may 
find examples where the prompting motive of return 
appears to be a mere short-coming of the most trivial 
character. Such a one is given by Dr. Binns, in his 
" Anatomy of Sleep." It was communicated by the Eev. 
Charles McKay, a Catholic priest, then resident in Scot- 
land, in a letter addressed by him to the Countess of 
Shrewsbury, dated Perth, October 21, 1842. This letter 
was communicated by the earl to Dr. Binns, who pub- 
lishes it entire, adding that "perhaps there is not a 
better-authenticated case on record." I extract it from 
the letter, as follows. 


" In July, 1838, 1 left Edinburgh, to take charge of the 
Eothshire missions. On my arrival in Perth, the prin- 
cipal station, I was called upon by a Presbyterian 
woman, (Anne Simpson by name,) who for more than a 
week had been in the utmost anxiety to see a priest. On 
asking her what she wanted with me, she answered, ' Oh, 
sir, I have been terribly troubled for several nights b}" a 
person appearing to me during the night.' ' Are you a 
Catholic, my good woman ?' ' JSTo, sir : I am a Presby- 
terian.' 'Why, then, do you come to me? I am a 
Catholic priest.' ' But, sir, she (meaning the person that 
had appeared to her) desired me to go to the priest, and 
I have been inquiring for a priest daring the last week.' 
' Why did she wish you to go to the priest ?' ' She said 
she owed a sum of money, and the priest would pay it.' 
MYhat w^as the sum of money she owed?' 'Thrce-and- 
tenpence, sir.' ' To whom did she owe it ?' 'I do not 
know, sir.' 'Are you sure you have not been dream- 
ing ?' ' Oh, God forgive you ! for she appears to mo 
every night. I can get no rest.' 'Did you know the 


woman you say appears to you?' '■ I was poorly lodged, 
sir, near the barracks, and I often saw and spoke to her 
as she went in and out to the barracks ; and she called 
herself Maloy.' 

" I made inquiry, and found that a woman of that name 
had died who had acted as washerwoman and followed 
the regiment. Following up the inquiry, I found a grocer 
with whom she had dealt, and, on asking him if a person, 
a female, named Maloy owed him any thing, he turned up 
his books, and told me she did owe him three-and-tenjpence. 
I paid the sum. The grocer knew nothing of her death, 
nor, indeed, of her character, but that she was attached 
to the barracks. Subsequently the Presbyterian woman 
came to me, saying that she was no more troubled.^'* 

It is not a plausible supposition, in this case, that for 
so paltry a sum a tradesman should concert with an 
old woman (she was past seventy years of age) to trump 
uj) a story of an apparition and impose on the good 
nature and credulity of a priest. Had it been such a 
trick, too, it is scarcely supposable that the woman 
should not have mentioned the grocer's name, but should 
have left the reverend gentleman to grope after the 
creditor as he best might. 

If the whole was related in good faith, the indica- 
tion seems to be that human character may be but 
little altered by the death-change, — sometimes pre- 
serving in another state of existence not only trifling 
recollections, but trivial cares. 

Some narratives appear to favor the supposition that 
not the criminal only, but the victim of his crime, may, 
at times, be attracted in spirit to the earthly scene of 
suffering. The Hydesville story may have been an ex- 

* ^'Anatomy of Sleep," by Edward Binns, M.D., pp. 462, 463. 


ample of this. While in Piiris, in the spring of 1859, 1 
obtained what appears to be another. The narrative 
was communicated to me by a clergyman of the Church, 
of England, the Eev. Dr. — — , Chaplain to the British 
Legation at . Having heard from a brother clergy- 
man something of the story, I asked, by letter, to be 
favored with it; stating, in general terms, the purpose 
of my work. The request was kindly complied with, 
and produced an interesting contribution to this branch 
of the subject. 


" In the year 185- I was staying, with my wife and 

children, at the favorite watering-place . In order 

to attend to some affairs of my own, I determined 
to leave my family there for three or four days. Ac- 
cordingly, on the — th of August, I took the railway, 

and arrived that evening, an unexpected guest, at 

Hall, the residence of a gentleman whose acquaintance 
I had recently made, and with wdiom my sister was 
then staying. 

'^ I arrived late, soon afterward went to bed, and 
before long fell asleep. Awaking after three or four 
hours, I was not surprised to find I could sleej) no 
more; for I never rest well in a strange bed. After 
trying, therefore, in vain again to induce sleej), I began 
to arrange my plans for the day. 

^' I had been engaged some little time in this way, 
when I became suddenly sensible that there was a light 
in the room. Turning round, I distinctly perceived a 
female figure; and what attracted my special attention 
was, that the light hy which I saw it emanated from itself. 
I watched the figure attentively. The features were 
not perceptible. After moving a little distance, it dis- 
appeared as suddenly as it had appeared. 

'^ My first thoughts were that there was some trick. 


I immediately got out of bed, struck a light, and found 
my bedroom-door still locked. I then carefully exa- 
mined the walls, to ascertain if there were any other 
concealed means of entrance or exit; but none could I 
find. I drew the curtains and opened the shutters; 
but all outside was silent and dark, there being no 

" After examining the room well in every part, I 
betook myself to bed and thought calmly over the 
whole matter. The final impression on my mind was, 
that I had seen something supernatural, and, if super- 
natural, that it was in some way connected with my 
wife. What was the appearance? What did it mean? 
Would it have appeared to me if I had been asleep 
instead of awake? These were questions very easy to 
ask and very difficult to answer. 

^^Even if my room-door had been unlocked, or if 
there had been a concealed entrance to the room, a 
practical joke was out of the question. For, in the 
first place, I was not on such intimate terms with 
my host as to warrant such a liberty; and, secondly, 
even if he had been inclined to sanction so question- 
able a proceeding, he was too unwell at the time to 
permit me for a moment to entertain such a sup- 

" In doubt and uncertainty I passed the rest of the 
night; and in the morning, descending early, I imme- 
diately told my sister what had occurred, describing' 
to her accurately every thing connected with the ap- 
pearance I had witnessed. She seemed much struck 
with what I told her, and replied, ^It is very odd; for 
you have heard, I dare say, that a lady was, some 
years ago, murdered in this house ; but it was not in 
the room you slept in.' I answered, that I had never 
heard any thing of the kind, and was beginning to 
make further inquiries about the murder, when I was 


inteiTiipted by the entrance of our host and hostess^ 
and afterward by breakfost. 

"After breakfast I left, without having had an}^ 
opportunity of renewing the conversation. But the 
whole affair had made upon me an imjDression which 
I sought in vain to shake off. The female figure was 
ever before my mind's eye, and I became fidgety and 
anxious about my wife. ' Could it in any way be 
connected with her?' was my constantly recurring 
thought. So much did this weigh on my mind that, 
instead of attending to the business for the express 
purpose of transacting which I had left my family, I 
returned to them by the first train; and it was only 
when I saw my wife and children in good health, and 
every thing safe and well in my household, that I felt 
satisfied that, whatever the nature of the appearance 
might have been, it was not connected with any evil to 

" On the "Wednesday following, I received a letter 
from my sister, in which she informed me that, since I 
left, she had ascertained that the murder teas com- 
mitted in the very room in which I had slej^t. She 
added that she purposed visiting us next day, and that 
she would like me to write out an account of what I 
had seen, together with a plan of the room, and 
that on that plan she Avished me to mark the place 
of the appearance, and of the disappearance, of the 

"This I immediately did ; and the next day, when 
my sister arrived, she asked me if I had complied with 
her request. I replied, pointing to the drawing-room 
table, ^ Yes : there is the account and the j)lan.' As she 
rose to examine it, I prevented her, saying, ^Do not 
look at it until 3'ou have told me all you have to say, 
because you might unintentionally color your story by 
what you may read there.' 


" Thereupon she informed me that she hud h:id the 
ciirpet taken up in the room I had occupied, and that 
the marks of blood from the murdered person were 
there, phiinly visible, on a particular part of the floor. 
At my request she also then drew a plan of the room, 
and marked upon it the spots which still bore traces of 

" The two plans — my sister's and mine — were then 
compared, and we verified the most remarkable fact 
that the places she had marked as the hegbming and ending 
of the traces of blood coincided exactly with the spots 
marked on my plan as those on which the female figure had 
appeared and disappeared. 

" I am unable to add any thing to this plain state- 
ment of facts. I cannot account, in any way, for what 
I saw. I am convinced no human being entered my 
chamber that night; yet I know that, being wide awake 
and in good health, I did distinctly see a female figure 
in my room. But if, as I must believe, it was a super- 
natural ap2:)earance, then I am unable to suggest any 
reason why it should have appeared to me. I cannot 
tell whether, if I had not been in the room, or had been 
asleep at the time, that figure would equally have been 
there. As it was, it seemed connected with no warning 
nor presage. No misfortune of any kind happened then, 
or since, to me or mine. It is true that the host, at 
whose house I was staying when this incident occurred, 
and also one of his children, died a few months after- 
ward; but I cannot pretend to make out any con- 
nection between either of these deaths and the aj^pear- 
ance I witnessed. The ' cui bo?io,' therefore, I do not 
attempt to explain. But what I distinctly saw, that, 
and that only, I describe."* 

* Communicated to me, under date April 25, 1859, in a letter from the 

Rev. Dr. , who informs me that the relation is in the very words, so 



In this case, the narrative bears testimony to accu- 
racy and dispassionate coohiess in the observer. It is 
one of those exam^^les, also, which give support to the 
opinion that such phenomena sometimes present them- 
selves without any special purpose so far as we can dis- 
cover. Moreover, it is evident that sufficient pre- 
cautions were taken to prevent the possibility of 
suggestion becoming the cause of the coincidence 
between the two plans of the room, — that executed 
by the brother and that afterward drawn by the 
sister. They were, clearly, made out quite indepen- 
dently of each other. And if so, to what can we 
ascribe the coincidence they exhibited? Evidently, not 
to chance. 

In the preceding cases, the attraction to earth seems 
to have been of a painful nature. But a more frequent 
and influential motive seems to be that great principle 
of human love, which even in this world, cold though 
it be, is the most powerful incentive to virtue, and 
Avhich in another wnll doubtless assert far more 
supremely its genial sway. It may be the affection 
of remote kindred, apparently evinced by some ances- 
tor, or the stronger love of brother to sister, of parent 
to child, of husband to wife. Of the last an example 
will be found in the following narrative, for w^hich I am 
indebted to the kindness of London friends ; and though; 
in accordance w^ith the wishes of the family, some of the 
names are initialized only, they are all known to myself. 
Of the good faith of the narrators there cannot be a 

far as bis memory serves, in which the narrator, his brother, repeated it to 
him. Though not at liberty to print the reverend gentleman's name, lie 
has permitted mc to furnish it privately in any case in which it might 
serve the cause to advance which these pages have been written. 


In the month of September, 1857, Captain G- 

"W , of the 6th Dragoon Guards, went out to India 

to join his regiment. 

His wife remained in England, residing at Cambridge. 
On the night between the 14th and 15th of I^ovember, 
1857, toward morning, she dreamed that she saw her 
husband, looking anxious and ill, — upon whieh she im- 
mediately awoke, much agitated. It was bright moon- 
light ; and, looking up, she perceived the same figure stand- 
ing by her bedside. He appeared in his uniform, the hands 
pressed across the breast, the hair disheveled, the face 
very pale. His large dark eyes were fixed full upon 
her; their expression was that of great excitement, and 
there was a peculiar contraction of the mouth, habitual 
to him when agitated. She saw him, even to each 
minute particular of his dress, as distinctly as she had 
ever done in her life; and she remembers to have 
noticed between his hands the white of the shirt-bosom, 
unstained, however, with blood. The figure seemed to 
bend forward, as if in pain, and to make an effort to 
speak; but there was no sound. It remained visible, 
the wife thinks, as long as a minute, and then disappeared. 

Her first idea was to ascertain if she was actually 
awake. She rubbed her eyes with the sheet, and felt 
that the touch was real. Her little nephew was in bed 
with her : she bent over the sleeping child and listened 
to its breathing; the sound was distinct; and she 
became convinced that what she had seen was no 
dream. It need hardly be added that she did not again 
go to sleep that night. 

Next morning she related all this to her mother, 
expressing her conviction, though she had noticed no 

marks of blood on his dress, that Captain AY was 

either killed or grievously wounded. So fully impressed 


was she with the rcahty of that apparition that she 
thenceforth refused all invitations. A young friend 
urged her, soon afterward, to go with her to a fashion- 
able concert, reminding her that she had received from 
Malta, sent by her husband, a handsome dress-cloak, 
which she hadnever yet worn. But she positively declined, 
declaring that, uncertain as she was whether she was 
not already a widow^, she would never enter a place of 
amusement until she had letters from her husband (if, 
indeed, he still lived) of later date than the 14th of 

It was on a Tuesday in the month of December, 1857, 
that the telegram regarding the actual fate of Captain 

W r was published in London. It was to the effect 

that he was killed before Lucknow on the fifteenth of No- 

This news, given in the morning paper, attracted the 
attention of Mr. Wilkinson, a London solicitor, who had 

in charge Captain W 's affairs. When at a later 

period this gentleman met the widow, she informed him 
that she had been quite prepared for the melancholy 
news, but that she felt sure her husband could not have 
been killed on the 15th of November, inasmuch as it was 
during the night between the 14th and 15th that he ap- 
peared to herself* 

The certificate from the War Office, however, which it 
became Mr. Wilkinson's duty to obtain, confirmed the 
date given in the telegram ; its tenor being as follows : — 

* The difference of longitude between London and Lucknow being about 
five hours, three or four o'clock a.m. in London would bo eight or nine 
o'clock A.M. at Lucknow. But it was in the afternoon, not in the morning, 

as will be seen in the sequel, that Captain W was killed. Had he fallen 

on the 15th, therefore, the apparition to his wife would have appeared 
several hours before the engagement in which he fell, and while he was yet 
alive and well. 



9579 War Office, 

1 SOth January, 1858. 

''These are to certify that it appears, by the records 

in this office, that Captain G W , of the 6th 

Dragoon Guards, was killed in action on the 15tli No- 
vember, 1857. 

(Signed) " B. Hawes." 

While j\Ir. Wilkinson's mind remained in uncertainty 
as to the exact date, a remarkable incident occurred, 
which seemed to cast further suspicion on the accuracy 
of the telci>:ram and of the certificate. That ^-entleman 
was visiting a friend, whose lady has all her life had 
perception of apparitions, while her husband is what is 
usually called an impressible medium ; facts which are 
know^n, however, only to their intimate friends. Though 
personally acquainted with them, I am not at liberty to 
give their names. Let us call them Mr. and Mrs. N . 

Mr. Wilkinson related to them, as a wonderful cir- 
cumstance, the vision of the captain's widow in connec- 
tion with his death, and described the figure as it had 

appeared to her. Mrs. N , turning to her husband, 

instantly said, "That must be the very person I saw, 
the evening we were talking of India, and you drew an 
elephant, with a howdah on his back. Mr. Wilkinson 
has described his exact position and appearance; the 
uniform of a British officer, his hands j^ressed across his 
breast, his form bent forward as if in pain. The figure," 
she added to Mr. W , "appeared just behind my hus- 
band, and seemed looking over his left shoulder." 

" Did you attempt to obtain any communication from 
him?" Mr. Wilkinson asked. 

"Yes: we procured one through the medium of my 

" ])o you remember its purport ?" 

" It was to the effect that he had been killed in India 



that afternoon, by a wound in the breast ; and adding, 
as I distinctly remember, 'That thing I used to go about 
in is not buried yet/ I particularly remarked the ex- 

"When did this happen ?" 

"About nine o'clock in the evening, several weeks 
ajro; but I do not recollect the exact date.'' 

" Can you not call to mind something that might en- 
able 5'ou to fix the precise day ?" 

Mrs. N reflected. " I remember nothing,'^ she said, 

at last, " except that while my husband was drawing, and 
I was talking to a lady friend who had called to see us, 
we were interrupted by a servant bringing in a bill for 
some German vinegar, and that, as I recommended it as 
being superior to English, we had a bottle brought in for 

" Did you pay the bill at the time?" 

" Yes : I sent out the money by the servant." 

" Was the bill receipted i"' 

"I think so; but I have it up-stairs, and can soon 

Mrs. N produced the bill. Its receipt bore date 

the fourteenth of November ! 

This confirmation of the widow's conviction as to the 
day of her husband's death produced so much impression 
on Mr. Wilkinson, that he called at the ofiice of Messrs. 
Cox & Greenwood, the army agents, to ascertain if there 
was no mistake in the certificate. But nothing there 
appeared to confirm any surmise^ of inaccuracy. Cap- 
tain W 's death was mentioned in two separate dis- 
patches of Sir Colin Campbell; and in both the date 
corresponded with that given in the telegram. 

So matters rested, until, in the month of March, 1858, 

the family of Captain W received from Captain 

G C , then of the Military Train, a letter dated 

near Lucknow, on the 19th December, 1857. This letter 


informed them that Captain W had been killed be- 
fore Lucknow, wliile gallantly leading on the squadron, 
not on the loth of JSTovember, as reported in Sir Colin 
Campbell's dispatches, but on the fourteenth, in the after- 
noon. Ca2>tain C was riding close by his side at the 

time he saw him fall. He was struck by a fragment of 
shell in the breast, and never spoke after he was hit. He 
was buried at the Dilkoosha; and on a wooden cross 
erected by his friend. Lieutenant E of the 9th Lan- 
cers, at the head of his grave, are cut the initials G-. W. 
and the date of his death, the 14th of JSTovember, 1859.* 

The War Office finally made the correction as to the 
date of death, but not until more than a year after the 
event occurred. Mr. Wilkinson, having occasion to apply 
for an additional copy of the certificate in April, 1857, 
found it in exactty the same words as that which I have 
given, only that the 14th of November had been substi- 
tuted for the 15th. f 

This extraordinary narrative was obtained by mo 
directly from the parties themselves. The widow of 

Captain W kindly consented to examine and correct 

the manuscript, and allowed me to inspect a copy of 

Captain C 's letter, giving the particulars of her 

husband's death. To Mr. Wilkinson, also, the manu- 
script was submitted, and he assented to its accuracy so 
far as he is concerned. That portion which relates to 
Mrs. N I had from that lady herself I have neg- 

* It was not in his own regiment, which was then at Mecrut, that Cap- 
tain W was serving at the time of his death. Immediately on arrivincr 

from England at Cawnpore, he had offered his services to Colonel Wilson, 
of the 64th. They were at first declined, but finally accepted ; and he joined 
the Military Train, then starting for Lucknow. It was in their ranks that 
he fell. 

■\ The originals of both these certificates arc in my possession : the first 
bearing date 30th January, 1858, and certifying, as already shown, to the 
15th; the second dated 5th April, 1850. and testifying to the 14th. 


lected no precaution, therefore; to obtain for it the war- 
rant of authenticity. 

It is, perhaps, the only example on record where the 
appearance of what is usually termed a ghost proved 
the means of correcting an erroneous date in the dis- 
patches of a commander-in-chief, and of detecting an 
inaccuracy in the certificate of a War Office. 

It is especially valuable, too, as furnishing an example 
of a double apparition. Nor can it be alleged (even if 
the allegation had weight) that the recital of one lady 
caused the apparition of the same figure to the other. 

Mrs. W was at the time in Cambridge, and Mrs. N 

in London ; and it was not till weeks after the occurrence 
that either knew what the other had seen. 

Those who would explain the whole on the principle 
of chance coincidence have a treble event to take into 

account : the apparition to Mrs. N . that to Mrs. W , 

and the actual time of Captain W— — 's death; each tally- 
ing exactly with the other. 

Examples of apparitions at the moment of death might 
be multiplied without number. Many persons — especially 
in Germany — who believe in no other species of appari- 
tion admit this. Anzeigen is the German term employed 
to designate such an intimation from the newly dead. 

Compelled by lack of space, I shall here close the list 
of narratives connected with alleged apparitions of the 
dead, by giving one — certainly not the least remarkable 
— a jiortion of the corroborative proofs of which were 
sought out and obtained by myself. 


In October, 1857, and for several months afterward, Mrs. 
R ,* wife of a field-officer of high rank in the British 

* The initials of the two names here given are not the actual ones ; but 
I have the pleasure of a personal aciiuaiiitancc with both these ladies. 


army, was residing in Eamhurst Manor-House, near 
Leigh, in Kent, England. From the time of her first 
occupying this ancient residence, every inmate of the 
house had been more or less disturbed at niglit — 7\ot 
usually during the day — by knockings and sounds as oi 
footsteps, but more especially by voices which could not 
be accounted for. These last were usually heard in some 
unoccupied adjoining room; sometimes as if talking in a 
loud tone, sometimes as if reading aloud, occasionally as 
if screaming. The servants were much alarmed. They 

never saw any thing; but the cook told Mrs. E that 

on one occasion, in broad daylight, hearing the rustle of 
a silk dress close behind her, and which seemed to touch 
her, she turned suddenly round, supposing it to be her 
mistress, but, to her great surprise and terror, could see 

nobody. Mrs. E 's brother, a bold, light-hearted 

young officer, fond of field-sports, and without the 
slightest faith in the reality of visitations from another 
world, was much disturbed and annoyed by these voices, 
which he declared must be those of his sister and of a 
lady friend of hers, sitting up together to chat all night. 
On two occasions, when a voice which he thought to 
resemble his sister's rose to a scream, as if imploring 
aid, he rushed from his room, at two or three o'clock in 
the morning, gun in hand, into his sister's bedroom, 
there to find her quietly asleep. 

On the second Saturday in the above month of Oc- 
tober, Mrs. E drove over to the railway-station at 

Tunbridge, to meet her friend Miss S , whom she 

had invited to sj^end some weeks with her. This young 
lady had been in the habit of seeing apparitions, at times, 
from early childhood. 

When, on their return, at about four o'clock in the 
afternoon, they drove up to the entrance of the manor- 
house. Miss S perceived on the threshold the ap- 
pearance of two figures, apparently an elderly couple, 



habited iji I lie costume of a former age. They appeared 
as if standing on the ground. She did not hear any 
voice; and, not wishing to render her friend uneasy, she 
made at that time no remark to her in connection with 
this apparition. 

She saw the appearance of the same figures, in the 
same dress, several times within the next ten days, 
sometimes in one of the rooms of the house, sometimes 
in one of the passages, — always by daylight. They ap- 
peared to her surrounded by an atmosphere nearly of 
the color usually called neutral tint. On the third occa- 
sion they spoke to her, and stated that they had been 
husband and wife, that in former days they had pos- 
sessed and occupied that manor-house, and that their 
name was Children. They appeared sad and downcast j 
and, when Miss S inquired the cause of their melan- 
choly, they replied that they had idolized this property 
of theirs; that their pride and pleasure had centered in 
its possession; that its improvement had engrossed their 
thoughts; and that it troubled them to know^ that it had 
passed away from their family and to see it now in the 
hands of careless strangers. 

I asked Miss S how they spoke. She replied that 

the voice w^as audible to her as that of a human being's ; 
and that she believed it was heard also by others in an 
adjoining room. This she inferred from the fact that 
she was afterward asked w^ith whom she had been con- 

After a week or two, Mrs. E, , beginning to suspect 

that something unusual, connected with the constant 
disturbances in the house, had occurred to her friend, 

-•• Yet this is not conclusive. It might have been Miss S 's voice 

only that was heard, not any reply — though heard by her — made by the 
apparitions. Visible to her, they were invisible to others. Audible to her, 
they may to others have been inaudible also. 

Yet it is certain that the voices at night were heard equally by all. 


questioned her closely on the subject; mid tlien Miss 

S related to her what siie had seen and heard, 

describing the appearance and relating the conversa- 
tion of the figures calling themselves Mr. and Mrs. Chil- 

Up to that time, Mrs. R , though her rest had 

been frequently broken by the noises in the house, and 
though she too has the oc^casional perception of appa- 
ritions, had seen nothing; nor did any thing appear to 
her for a month /afterward. One day, however, about 
the end of that time, when she had ceased to expect 
any apparition to herself, she was hurriedly dressing for 
a late dinner, — her brother, who had just returned from 
a day's shooting, having called to her in impatient tones 
that dinner was served and that he was quite famished. 
At the moment of completing her toilet, and as she 
hastily turned to leave her bed-chamber, not dreaming 
of any thing spiritual, there in the doorway stood the 

same female figure Miss S had described, — identical 

in appearance and in costume, even to the old point-lace 
on her brocaded silk dress, — while beside her, on the left, 
but less distinctly visible, was the figure of her husband. 
They uttered no sound ; but above the figure of the lady, 
as if written in phosphoric light in the dusk atmosphere 
that surrounded her, were the words ^^ Dame Chilchen,'^ 
together Avith some other words, intimating that, having 
never aspired beyond the joj^s and sorrows of this world, 
she had remained ''earth-bound." These last, however, 
Mrs. R scarcely paused to decipher; for a renewed ap- 
peal from her brother, as to whether they were to have 
any dinner that day, urged her forward. The figure, fill- 
ing up the doorwa}^, remained stationary. There was no 
time for hesitation : she closed her eyes, rushed through 
the apparition and into the dining-room, throwing up 

her hands and exclaiming to Miss S , ^' Oh, my dear^ 

I've walked through Mrs. Children !" 


This was the only titne during her resideuce in the 
old miinor-house that Mrs. li witnessed the appa- 
rition of these figures. 

And it is to be remarked that her bed-chamber, at the 
time, was lighted, not only by candles, but by a cheerful 
fire, and that there was a lighted lamp in the corridor 
w^hich communicated thence to the dining-room. 

This repetition of the word ".Children" caused the ladies 
to make inquiries among the servants and in the neigh- 
borhood whether any family bearing that name had 
ever occupied the manor-house. Among those whom 
they thought likely to know something about it was a 

Mrs. Sophy O , a nurse in the family, who had spent 

her life in that vicinity. But all inquiries were fruitless; 
every one to whom they put the question, the nurse 
included, declaring that they had never heard of such 
a name. So they gave up all hopes of being able to 
unravel the mystery. 

It so happened, however, that, about four months 
afterward, this nurse, going home for a holiday to her 
family at Eiverhead, about a mile from Seven Oaks, and 
recollecting that one of her sisters-in-law, who lived near 
her, an old w^oman of seventy, had fifty years before 
been housemaid in a family then residing at Eamhurst, 
inquired of her if she had ever heard any thing of a 
family named Children. The sister-in-law replied that 
no such family occupied the manor-house when she was 
there ; but she recollected to have then seen an old man 
who told her that in his boyhood he had assisted to keep 
the hounds of the Children family, avIio were then re- 
siding at Eamhurst. This information the nurse com- 
municated to Mrs. E on her return ; and thus it 

was that that lady was first informed that a family 
named Children really had once occupied the manor- 

All these particulars I received in December, 1858j 


directly from the ladies themselves^ both being together 
at the time. 

Even up to this point the case, as it presented itself, 
was certainly a very remarkable one. But I resolved, 
if possible, to obtain further confirmation in the matter. 

I inquired of Miss S whether the apparitions had 

communicated to her any additional particulars con- 
nected with the family. She replied that she recollected 
one which she had then received from them, namely, 
that the husband's name was Richard. At a subsequent 
period, likewise, she had obtained the date of Eichard 
Children's death, which, as communicated to her, was 
1753. She remembered also that on one occasion a 
third spirit appeared with them, which they stated was 
their son ; but she did not get his name. To my further 
inquiries as to the costumes in which the (alleged) spirits 

appeared. Miss S replied '^ that they were of the period 

of Queen Anne or one of the early Georges, she could 
not be sure Avhich, as the fashions in both were similar." 
These were her exact words. Neither she nor Mrs. 

B , however, had obtained any information tending 

either to verify or to refute these particulars. 

Having an invitation from some friends residing near 
Seven Oaks, in Kent, to spend with them the Christmas 
week of 1858, I had a good opportunity of prosecuting 
my inquiries in the way of verification. 

I called, with a friend, Mr. F , on the nurse, Mrs. 

Sophy O . Without alluding to the disturbances, 1 

simply asked her if she knew any thing of an old family 
of the name of Children. She said she knew very little 
except what she had heard from her sister-in-law, 
namely, that they used in former days to live at a 
manor-house called Eamhurst. I asked her if she had 
ever been there. " Yes," she said, " about a year ago, as 

nurse to Mrs. R ." "Did Mrs. R ," I asked 

her, " know any thing about the Children family ?" She 



replied that her mistress had once made inquiries of her 
about them, wishing to know if they had ever occupied 
the manor-house, but at that time she (Mrs. Sophy) 
had never heard of such a family : so she could give the 
lady no satisfaction. 

" How did it happen/' I asked, " that Mrs. E sup- 
posed &uch a family might once have occupied the 
house ?" 

" Well, sir," she replied, " that is more than I can tell 
you, — unless, indeed, [and here she hesitated and lowered 
her voice,] it was through a young lady that was staying 
with mistress. Did you ever hear, sir," she added, 
looking around her in a mysterious wa}", " of what they 
call spirit-rajypers ^" 

I intimated that I had heard the name. 

" I'm not afraid of such things," she pursued : "• I 
never thought they would harm me; and I'm not one 
of 3'our believers in ghosts. But then, to be sure, we 
did have such a time in that old house I" 

" Ah ! what sort of a time ?" 

"With knockings, sir, and the noise of footsteps, and 
people talking of nights. Many a time I've heard the 
voices when I was going along the passage at two or 
three o'clock in the morning, carrying the baby to my 
mistress. I don't believe in ghosts; but you may be 
sure, sir, it was something serious when mistress's 
brother got up in the middle of the night and came to 
his sister's room with his loaded gun in his hand. And 
then there was another brother : he got out of his bed one 
night and declared there were robbers in the house." 

" Did you see any thing ?" 

"No, sir, never." 

" Nor any of the other servants ?" 

"I think not, sir; but cook was so frightened !" 

"What happened to her?" 

" Well, sir, no harm happened to her, exactly : only 


she was kneeling down making her fire one morning, 
when up she started with a cry like. I heard her, and 
came in to see what was the matter. ' Oh/ says she, 
'nurse, if I didn't hear the rustling of a silk dress all 
across the kitchen!' 'Well, cook,' says I, 'you know 
it couldn't be me, being I never wear silk.' ' 'No,' says 
she, — and she sort of laughed, — 'no, I knew it wasn't 
you, for I've heard the same three or four times already ; 
and whenever I look round there's nothing there.' " 

I thanked the good woman, and then went to see the 
sister-in-law, who fully confirmed her part of the story. 

But as all this afforded no clew either to the Christian 
name, or the date of occupation, or the yean of Mr. 
Children's death, I visited, in search of these, the 
church and graveyard at Leigh, the nearest to the 
Eamhurst property, and the old church at Tunbridge; 
making inquiries in both places on the subject. But 
to no purpose. All I could learn was, that a certain 
George Children left, in the year 1718, a weekly gift of 
bread to the poor, and that a descendant of the family, 
also named George, dying some forty years ago, and not 
residing at Eamhurst, had a marble tablet, in the Tun- 
bridge church, erected to his memory. 

Sextons and tombstones having failed me, a friend 
suggested that I might possibly obtain the information 
I sought by visiting a neighboring clergyman. I did so, 
and with the most fortunate result. Simply stating to 
him that Iliad taken the liberty to call in search. of 
some particulars touching the early history of a Kentish 
family of the name of Children, he replied that, singu- 
iarly enough, he was in possession of a document, coming 
to him through a private source, and containing, he 
thought likely, the very details of which I was in search. 
He kindly intrusted it to me; and I found in it, among 
numerous particulars regarding another member of the 
family, not many years since deceased, certain extracts 


from the '* Hasted Papers," preserved in the British Mu- 
seum; these being contained in a letter addressed by one 
of the members of the Children famil}' to Mr. Hasted. 
Of this document, which may be consulted in the Museum 
library, I here transcribe a portion, as follows: — 

'^ The familj' of Children were settled for a great many 
generations at a house called, from their own name, 
Childrens, situated at a place called Nether Street, other- 
wise Lower Street, in Hildenborough, in the parish of 
Tunbridge. George Children of Lower Street, who was 
High-Sheriff of Kent in 1698, died without issue in 1718, 
and by wiU devised the bulk of his estate to Richard 
Children, eldest son of his late uncle, William Children 
of Hedcorn, and his heirs. This Eichard Children, icho 
settled himself at Bamhurst, in the parish of Leigh, married 
Anne, daughter of John Saxb}^, in the parish of Leeds, 
by whom he had issue four sons and two daughters," &c. 

Thus I ascertained that the first of the Children 
fomily who occupied Eamhurst as a residence was named 
Eichard, and that he settled there in the early part of 
the reign of George I. The year of his death, however, 
was not given. 

This last particular I did not ascertain till several 
months afterward; when a friend versed in antiquarian 
lore, to whom I mentioned my desire to obtain it, 
suggested that the same Hasted, an extract from whose 
papers I have given, had published, in 1778, a history 
of Kent, and that, in that work, I might possibly obtain 
the information I sought. In effect, after considerable 
search, I there found the following paragraph : — 

''In the eastern part of the Parish of Lyghe, (now 
Leigh,) near the river Medway, stands an ancient man- 
sion called Eamhurst, once reputed a Manor and held 
of the honor of Gloucester." . . . "It continued in the 
Culpeppcrfamily for several generations." . . . "It passed 
by sale into that of Saxby, and Mr. William Saxby con- 


veyed it, by sale, to Children. Eichard Children, Esq., 
resided here, and died possessed of it in 1753, aged eighty- 
three years. He was succeeded in it by his eldest son, 
John Children, of Tunbridge, Esq., whose son, George 
Children, of Tunbridge, Esq., is the present possessor.'"'' 

Thus I verified the last remaining particular, the date 
of Richard Children's death. It appears from the above, 
also, that Richard Children was the only representative 
of the family who lived and died at Ramhurst; his sou 
John being designated not as of Ramhurst, but as of 
Tunbridge. From the private memoir above referred to 
I had previously ascertained that the family seat after 
Richard's time was Ferox Hall, near Tunbridge. 

It remains to be added that in 1816, in consequence of 
events reflecting no discredit on the family, they lost all 
their property, and were compelled to sell Ramhurst, 
which has since been occupied, though a somewhat spa- 
cious mansion, not as a family residence, but as a farm- 
house. I visited it; and the occupant assured me that 
nothing worse than rats or mice disturbed it now. 

I am not sure that I have found on record, among 
what are usually termed ghost-stories, any narrative 
better authenticated than the foref^-oinpr. It involves, 
indeed, no startling or romantic particulars, no warning 
of death, no disclosure of murder, no circumstances of 
terror or danger; but it is all the more reliable on that 
account; since those passions which are wont to excite 
and mislead the imaginations of men were not called 
into play. 

It was communicated to me, about fourteen months 
only after the events occurred, by both the chief wit- 
nesses, and incidentally confirmed, shortly' afterward, 
b}^ a third. 

* That is, iu 1778, when the work was published. See, for the above 
quotation, Hasted'? History of Kent, vol. i. j.p. 122 and 423. 

4l*6 remarks on the 

The social position and personal character of the two 
hidies to -svhoni the figures appeared preclude, at the 
outset, all idea whatever of Avillful misstatement or de- 
ception. The sights and sounds to which they testify 
did present themselves to their senses. Whether their 
senses played them false is another question. The 
theory of hallucination remains to be dealt with. Let 
us inquire whether it be applicable in the present case. 

Miss S first saw the figures, not in the obscurity 

of night, not between sleeping and waking, not in some 
old chamber reputed to be haunted, but in the open air, 
and as she was descending from a carriage, in broad 
daylight. Subsequently she not only saw them, but 
heard them speak; and that always in daylight. There 
are, however, cases on record in which the senses of hear- 
ing and sight are alleged to have been both halluci- 
nated; that of Tasso, for example.* And if the case 
rested here, such is the interpretation which the phy- 
sician would put upon it. 

Eut some weeks afterward another lady sees the ap- 
pearance of the selfsame figures. This complicates the 
case. For, as elsewhere shown,f it is generally admitted, 
by medical writers on the subject, that, while cases of 
collective illusion are common, it is doubtful whether there 
be on record a single authentic case of collective hallucina- 
tion: the inference being that if two persons see the 
same appearance, it is not mere imagination; there is 
some objective foundation for it. 

It is true, and should be taken into account, that Miss 

S had described the apparition to her friend, and 

that for a time the latter had some expectation of wit- 
nessing it. And this will suggest to the skeptic, as 

*- "Essay towards a Theory of Aj^j^aritlous" by Jobn Ferriar, M.D., 
London, 1813, p. 75. 
t See Book IV. chap. i. 


explanation, the theory of expectant attention. But, in 
the first place, it has never been proved* that mere ex- 
pectant attention could produce the appearance of a 
figure "with every detail of costume, to say nothing oi 
the phosphorescent letters appearing above it, which 

Mrs. E certainly did not expect; and, secondly, Mrs. 

R expressly stated to me that, as four weeks had 

elapsed and she had seen nothing, she had ceased to 
expect it at all. Still less can we imagine that her 
thoughts would be occupied with the matter at the mo- 
ment when, hurried by a hungry and impatient brother, 
she was hastily completing, in a cheerfully-lighted room, 
her dinner-toilet. It would be difficult to select a moment 
out of the twenty-four hours when the imagination was 
less likely to be busy with spiritual fancies, or could be 
supposed excited to the point necessary to reproduce (if 
it can ever reproduce) the image of a described appa- 

But conceding these extreme improbabilities, what 
are we to make of the name Children, communicated 
to the one ladj^ through the sense of hearing and to the 
other through that of sight? 

The name is a veiy uncommon one; and both the ladies 
assured me that they had never even heard it before, to 
say nothing of their being wholly ignorant whether any 
family bearing that name had formerly occupied the old 
house. This latter point they seek to clear up; but 
neither servants nor neighbors can tell them any thing 
about it. They remain for four months without any 
explanation. At the end of that time, one of the ser- 
vants, going home, accidentally ascertains that about 
a hundred years ago, or more, a family named Children 
did occupy that very house. 

What could imagination or expectation have to do 

* The contrary appears. See page 347. 


vrith this:' The images of the figures may be set down, 
in the ca^e of both the ladies, as hallucination; but the 
name remains, a stubborn link, connecting these with 
the actual world. 

If even we were to argue — what no one will believe — 
that this agreement of ftxmily name w^as but a chance 
coincidence, there remain yet other coincidences to ac- 
count for before the whole difficulty is settled. There is 
the alleged Christian as well as famil}^ name, — Ei chard 
Children; there is the date indicated by the costume, 
^Hhe reign of Queen Anne or one of the early Georges;'' 
and, finall}", there is the year of Eichard Children's death. 

These the ladies stated to me, not know^ing, w^hen 
they did so, w^hat the actual fiicts were. These facts 
I myself subsequently disinterred; obtaining the evi- 
dence of a document preserved in the British Museum 
in proof that Eichard Children did inherit the Eamhurst 
property in the fourth year of the reign of George L, 
and did make the Eamhurst mansion-house his family 
residence. And he is the only representative of the 
family who lived and died there. His son John may 
have resided there for a time; but previous to his de- 
cease he had left the place for another seat, near Tun- 

Then there is the circumstance that misfortunes com- 
pelled the descendants of Eichard Children to sell the 
Eamhurst property, and that their ancestor's family man- 
sion, passing into the hands of strangers, was degraded 
(as that ancestor w^ould doubtless have considered it) to 
an ordinary farm-house; all this still tallying with the 
communications made. 

It is perfectly idle, under the circumstances, to talk 
of fancy or fortuitous coincidence. Something other 
than imagination or accident, be it w'hat it may, deter- 
mined the minute specifications obtained from the 
apparitions in the Old Kent Manor-llouse. 


The lesson taught by this story — if we admit the 
figures which presented themselves to the two ladies 
to have been, in verit}^, the apparitions of the Children 
family — is, that crime is not necessary to attract the 
spirits of the departed back to earth ; that a frame 
of mind of an exclusively w^orldly cast — a character 
that never bestowed a thought upon any thing beyond 
this earth, and was troubled only by the cares of pos- 
session and the thoughts of gain — may equally draw 
down the spirit, though freed from the body, to gather 
cumber and sorrow amid the scenes of its former care. 
If this be so, how strong the motive not to sutfer the 
present and the temporal, necessary and proj^er in their 
jjlaces as they are, so completely to engross us as to 
usurp the place, and wholly to exclude the thoughts, 
of the future and the spiritual ! 

I presume not to anticij^ate the judgment which the 
reader may pass on the evidence here submitted to him. 
If his decision be^ that there is not, in any of the pre- 
ceding examples, proof that an objective reality, be its 
nature what it may, was presented to the senses of the 
observers, then he would do well to consider whether 
the rule of evidence according to which he may have 
reached that decision, if applied to history, sacred 
and profane, would not sweep off nine-tenths, and more, 
of all we have been accustomed to trust to as foundation 
for historical deduction and religious belief. 

If, on the other hand, adopting in this investigation 
the same rules in scanning testimony by which Ave are 
governed, day by day, in ordinary life, the reader 
should decide that something other than hallucination 
must be conceded, and that the senses of some of these 
observers did receive actual impressions produced by 
an external reality, the question remains, of what pre- 
cise character that reality is. 


Daniel De Foe has an elaborate work on this subject, 
illustrated by many examples; of which some, it must 
be confessed, exhibit more of that inimitable talent 
which makes Eobinson Crusoe one of the most vivid 
realities of childhood, than of that more prosaic pre- 
cision which scorns not names and dates and authen- 
ticating vouchers. 

De Foe's opinion is, ^' The inquiry is not, as I take 
it, whether the inhabitants of the invisible spaces do 
really come hither or no, but who they arc who do 
come ?"* 

From the "meanness of some of the occasions on 
which some of these things happen," he argues that it 
cannot be angels, properly so called, such as appeared 
to Gideon or to David. ''Here," says he, "you have 
an old woman dead, that has hid a little money in the 
orchard or garden ; and an apparition, it is suj^posed, 
comes and discovers it, by leading the person it appears 
to, to the place, and making some signal that he should 
dig there for somewhat. Or^ a man is dead, and, having 
left a legacy to such or such^ the executor does not pay 
it, and an apparition comes and haunts this executor 
till he does justice. Is it likely an angel should bo 
sent from heaven to find out the old woman's earthen 
dish with thirty or forty shillings in it, or that an 
angel should be sent to harass this man for a legacy 
of five or ten pounds? And as to the devil, will any 
one charge Satan with, being solicitous to see justice 
done ? They that know him at all must know him 
better than to think so hardly of him." (p. 34.) 

Nor can it, he argues, be the soul or ghost of the 
departed person; "for if the soul is happy, is it reason- 

*" " Universal IIutorTj of Ajiparittons," by Andrew Moreton, Esq., 3^1 ed., 
London, 17.38, p. 2. De Foe's biographers acknowledge for him the author- 
uhip of this work. The first edition appeared in 1727. 

l.\ A DILEMMA. 431 

able to believe that the felicity of heaven can be inter- 
rupted by so trivial a matter and on so slight an occa- 
sion ? if the soul be unhappy, remember the great gulf 
fixed : there is no reason to believe these unhappy souls 
have leisure or liberty to come back upon earth on 
errands of such a nature.'^ 

The idea of Hades, or a mediate state, evidently did 
not enter into De Foe's mind; and thus he found him- 
self in a dilemma. " There is nothing," says he, " but 
difficulty in it on every side. Apparitions there are : 
we see no room to doubt the reality of that part ; but 
what, who, or from whence, is a difficulty which I see 
no way to extricate ourselves from but by granting 
that there may be an appointed, deputed sort of sta- 
tionary Spirits in the invisible world, who come upon 
these occasions and appear among us; which inhabit- 
ants or spirits, (you may call them angels, if you 
please, — bodies they are not and cannot be, neither 
had they been ever embodied,) but such as they are, 
they have a power of conversing among us, and can, 
by dreams, impulses, and strong aversions, move our 
thoughts, and give hope, raise doubts, sink our souls 
to-day, elevate them to-morrow, and in many ways 
operate on our passions and affections."* 

Again he says, ^^The spirits I speak of must be 
heaven-born : they do Heaven's work, and are honored 
by his special commission; they are employed in his 
immediate business: namely, the common good of his 
creature, man."f 

If there be no mediate state which the spirit enters 
at death, and whence it may occasionally return, then 
De Foe's hypothesis may be as good as any other. But 
if we admit a Sheol or Hades, and thus do away with 
all difficulty about disturbing the ecstatic felicity of 

* " Universal History of Apparitions," p. 35. f Work cited, p. 52. 

432 HADES 

heaven or escaping across the gulf from the lust- 
binding chains of hell, why should we turn aside 
from a plain j^ath, and seek to evade a straightforward 
inference, that, if God really does permit apparitions, 
these may be what they allege they are? Why should 
we gratuitously create, for the nonce, a nondescript 
species of spirits, not men, though a little lower than 
the angels; protectors, who simulate; guardians^ who 
lie; ministering spirits commissioned by God, win 
cheat men hy assuming false forms, — to one appearing 
as an aunt, to another as a grandmother, now per- 
sonating a murderer and imploring prayer, now play- 
ing the part of the murdered and soliciting pity? Is 
this God's work ? Are these fitting credentials of hea- 
venly birth, plausible evidences of Divine commis- 
sion ? 

The question remains as to the existence of a medi- 
ate state, whence human spirits that have suffered the 
Great Change may be supposed to have the occasional 
230wer of returning. Before touching upon it, I ^^ause, 
to add a few examples of ^vhat seem visitings from 
that unknown sphere; interferences, of which some 
assume the aspect of retribution, some of guardianship, 
all being of a peculiarly personal character. 




Ever since the days of Orestes, the idea of a spiritual 
agency, retributive and inevitable, has prevailed, in 
some shape, throughout the -world. If we do not now 
believe in serpent-haired furies, the ministers of Divine 
vengeance, pursuing, with their w^hips of scorpions, the 
doomed criminal, we speak currently of the judgments 
of God, as evinced in some swift and sudden punish- 
ment overtaking, as if by the direct mandate of Heaven, 
the impenitent guilty. 

On the other hand, Christianity sanctions, in a gene- 
ral wa}', the idea of spiritual care exerted to guide 
human steps and preserve from unforeseen danger. 
Protestantism does not, indeed, admit as sound the 
doctrine of patron saints, to whom prayers may pro- 
perly be addressed and from whom aid may reasonably 
be expected. Yet we must deny not only the authority 
of St. Paul, but, it would seem, that of his Master also, 
if we reject the theory of spirits, j^rotective and guardian, 
guiding the inexperience of infancy and ministering at 
least to a favored portion of mankind. "*" 

Among modern records of alleged ultramundane influ- 
ences we come upon indications which favor, to a certain 

* Matthew xviii. 10 ; Hebrews i. 14. 
2C 37 433 


extent, both ideas; that of requital for evil done, and 
that of guardian care exerted for the good of man. The 
latter is more frequent and more distinctly marked than 
the foi-mer. There is notliing giving color to the idea 
of permission to inflict serious injury, still less to the 
notion of implacable vengeance.* The power against 
the evil-doer seems to be of a very limited nature, reaching 
no further than annoyance, of petty effect unless con- 
science give sting to the infliction. On the other hand, 
the power to guide and protect appears to be not only 
more common, but more influential; with its limits, 
however, such as a wise parent might set to the free 
agency of a child. If warnings are given, it is rather 
in the form of dim hints or vague reminders than of 
distinct prophecy. If rules of action are suggested, 
they are of a general character, not relieving the spi- 
ritual ward from the duty of forethought and the task 
of self-decision, nor j^et releasing him from the employ- 
ment of that reason without the constant exercise of 
which he would speedily be degraded from his present 
position at the head of animal nature. 

The modern examples to which I have referred are 
more or less definite in their character. 

Among the narratives, for instance, appearing to in- 
volve retributive agency. Dr. Binns vouches for one 
admitting of various interpretation. He records it as 
"a remarkable instance of retributive justice which oc- 
curred very recently in Jamaica." The story is as 
follows : — 

"A young and beautiful quadroon girl, named Duncan, 
was found murdered in a retired spot, a few paces from 
the main road. From the evidence given on the coro- 

* The Grecians themselves do not represent the Furies as implacable. 
These were held to bo open — as their name of Eumenides implies — to 
benevolent and merciful impulses, aud might, by proper means, be pro- 


Tier's inquest, it was satisfiictorily established that she 
had been violated previous to the murder. A large 
reward was offered for any information that might lead 
to the aj^prchension of the murderer; but nearly a year 
elapsed without any clew whatever being obtained. It 
haj^pened that, about this jDcriod from the discovery of 
the murder, two black men, named Pendril and Chitty, 
were confined for separate petty offenses; one in the 
Kingston penitentiary, on the south, the other in Fal- 
mouth gaol, on the north, side of the island. Their im- 
prisonment was unknown to each other, and the distance 
between their places of incarceration was eighty miles. 
Each of these men became restless and talkative in his 
sleep, repeatedly expostulating as if in the presence of 
the murdered girl, and entreating her to leave him. 
This happened so frequently that it led to inquiries, 
which terminated in the conviction of the two men.'''* 

This case may be regarded either as an example of 
accidentally synchronous dreams, or else of an apparition 
presenting itself simultaneously, or nearly so, to the 
sleeping senses of tAvo men at a distance from each 

The former is a supposable explanation. Conscience 
may be conceived likely to dog the thoughts of men 
guilty of such an infamy. But that to both, distant and 
disconnected from each other, and after a year had 
passed, its retributive reminders should assume the 
selfsame shape at the very same time, by mere chance, 
is a contingency possible, indeed, but of very improbable 

And why should it be considered unlikely that some 
agency other than chance was here at work? Wo 
know that warnings have been given in dreams : w4iy 
should dreams not embody requitals also? 

••■ '' Anatomy of Slccj)," by Edward Binns, M.D., 2d ed., London, 1815, 
p. 152. 


But, since the above case presents two possible phases, 
let us pass to another, of less equivocal character. 


Mademoiselle Claire-Josephe Clairon was the great 
French tragedian of the last century. She occupied, 
in her da^^, a position similar to that which Eachel has 
recently filled. Marmontel was one of her warmest 
eulogists; and her talents were celebrated in the verses 
of Voltaire. 

Her beauty, her grace, and her genius won for her 
many enthusiastic admirers; some professing friendship, 
others offering love. Among the latter, in the year 

1743, was a young man, Monsieur de S , son of a 

merchant of Brittany, Avhose attachment appears to 
have been of the most devoted kind. 

The circumstances connected with this young man's 
death, and the events which succeeded it, are of an 
extraordinary character; but they come to us from first 
hand, and remarkably well authenticated, being detailed 
by Mademoiselle Clairon herself, in her autobiography, 
from which I translate the essential part of the narra- 
tive, as follows : — 

''The language and manners of Monsieur de S 

gave evidence of an excellent education and of the 
habit of good society. His reserve, his timidity, which 
deterred all advances except by little attentions and by 
the language of the eyes^ -caused me to distinguish him 
from others. After having met him frequently in society, 
I at last permitted him to visit me at my own house, 
and did not conceal from him the friendship with which 
he inspired me. Seeing me at liberty, and well inclined 
toward him, he was content to be patient; hoping that 
time miii-ht create in me a warmer sentiment. I could 
not tell — Avho can ? — how it would result. But, when 
he came to reply candidly to the questions which my 


reason and curiosity prompted, he himself destroyed the 
chance he might have had. Ashamed of being a com- 
moner only, he had converted his property into ready 
funds, and had come to Paris to spend his money, aping 
a rank above his own. This displeased me. He who 
blushes for himself causes others to despise him. Be- 
sides this, his temperament was melancholy and misan- 
thropic: he knew mankind too well, he said, not to 
contemn and to avoid them. His project was to see no 
one but myself, and to carry me off where I should see 
only him. That, as may be supposed, did not suit me 
at all. I was willing to be guided by a flowery band, 
but not to be fettered with chains. From that moment, 
I saw the necessity of destroying entirely the hopes he 
nourished, and of changing his assiduities of every day 
to occasional visits, few and far between. This caused 
him a severe illness, during which I nursed him with 
every possible care. But my constant refusals aggra- 
vated the case; and, unfortunately for the poor fellow, 
his brother-in-law, to whom he had intrusted the care 
of his funds, failed to make remittances, so that he was 
fain to accept the scanty supply of spare cash I had, to 
furnish him with food and medical assistance." . . . 
"Finally he recovered his property, but not his health; 
and, desiring for his own sake to keep him at a distance 
from me, I steadily refused both his letters and his visits. 

^'Two years and a half elapsed between the time of 
our first acquaintance and his death. He sent, in his 
last moments, to beg that I would grant him the happi- 
ness of seeing me once more; but my friends hindered 
me from doing so. He died, having no one near him 
but his servants and an old lady, who for some time 
had been his only society. His apartments were then 
on the Eempart, near the Chaussee d'Antin; mine, in 
the Rue de Bassy, near the monastery of Saint-Germain. 

^'That evening my mother and several other friends 


Avero supping with me, — among them, the Intendant of 
the Menus-Plaisirs, whose professional aid I constantly 
required, that excellent fellow Pipelet, and Eosely, a 
comrade of mine and a young man of good fomily, witty 
and talented. The supper was gay. I had just been 
singing to them, and they applauding me, when, as 
eleven o'clock struck, a piercing cry was heard. Its 
heart-rending tone and the length of time it continued 
struck every one with astonishment. I fainted, and 
remained for a quarter of an hour totally unconscious." 
. . . "\Yhen I recovered, I begged them to remain 
with me part of the night. AYe reasoned much in regard 
to this strange cry; and it was agreed to have spies set 
in the street, so that, in case of its repetition, we might 
detect its cause and its author. 

"Every succeeding night, always at the same hour, 
the same cry was repeated, sounding immediately be- 
neath my windows, and aj^pearing to issue from the 
vacant air. My people, my guests, my neighbors, the 
police, all heard it alike. I could not doubt that it 
was intended for me.. I seldom supped from home, but 
when I did, nothing w^as heard there; and several times, 
when I returned later than eleven, and inquired of my 
mother, or the servants, if any thing had been heard of 
it, suddenly it burst forth in the midst of us. 

"One evening the President de B , with whom I 

had been supping, escorted me home, and, at the moment 
he bade me good-night at the door of my apartment, the 
cry exploded between him and myself. He was quite 
familiar with the story, for all Paris knew it; yet he 
was carried to his carriage more dead than alive. 

"Another day, I begged my comrade, Eosely, to 
accompany me, first to the Eue Saint-llonore, to make 
some purchases, afterward to visit my friend Made- 
moiselle de Saint-P , who resided near the Porte 

Saint-Denis. Our sole tppic of conversation all the way 


was my ghost, as I used to call it. The young man, 
witty and unbelieving, begged me to evoke the phantom, 
promising to believe in it if it replied. Whether from, 
weakness or audacity, I acceded to his request. Thrit.e, 
on the instant, the cry sounded, ra^^id and terrible in -ts 
repetition. When we arrived at my friend's house, 
Rosely and I had to be carried in. We were both found 
lying senseless in the carriage. 

'' After this scene, I remained several months without 
hearing any thing more; and I began to hope that the 
disturbance had ceased. I was mistaken. 

"The theater had been ordered to Yersailles, on occa- 
sion of the marriage of the Dauphin. We were to re- 
main there three days. AYe were insufficiently provided 
with apartments. Madame Grandval had none. AYe 
waited half the night in hopes that one would be as- 
signed to her. At three o'clock in the morning I offered 
her one of the two beds in my room, which was in the 
Avenue de Saint-Cloud. She accejDted it. I occupied 
the other bed; and as my maid was undressing, to sleep 
beside me, I said to her, ^Here we are at the end of the 
world, and with such frightful weather! I think it would 
puzzle the ghost to find us out here.' The same cry, on 
the instant! Madame Grandval thought that hell itself 
was let loose in the room. In her night-dress she rushed 
down-stairs, from the top to the bottom. Not a soul in 
the house slept another wink that night. ' This was, 
however, the last time I ever heard it. 

" Seven or eight days afterward, while chatting with 
my ordinar}^ circle of friends, the stroke of eleven o'clock 
was followed by a musket-shot, as if fired at one of my 
windows. Every one of us heard tlie report; everyone 
of us saw the flash ; but the window had received no 
injury. AYe concluded that it was an attempt on my 
life, that for this time it had fiiiled, but that precautions 
must be taken for the future. The Intendant hastened 


to M. dc Marvillo, then Lieutenant of Police, and a per- 
sonal friend of his. Officers were instantly sent to ex- 
amine the houses opposite mine. Throughout the fol- 
lowing days they were guarded from top to bottom. My 
own house, also, was thoroughly examined. The street 
was filled with spies. But, in spite of all these precau- 
tions, for three entire months, every evening, at the 
same hour, the same musket-shot, directed against the 
same pane of glass, was heard to explode, was seen; and 
yet no one was ever able to discover whence it pro- 
ceeded. This fact is attested by its official record on 
the registers of the police. 

"I gradually became in a measure accustomed to my 
ghost, whom I began to consider a good sort of fellow, 
since he was content with tricks that produced no 
serious injury; and, one warm evening, not noticing the 
hour, the Intendant and myself, having opened the 
haunted window, were leaning over the balcony. Eleven 
o'clock struck; the detonation instantly succeeded; and 
it threw both of us, half-dead, into the middle of the 
room. When we recovered, and found that neither of 
us was hurt, we began to compare notes ; and each ad- 
mitted to the other the having received, he on the left 
cheek and I on the right, a box on the ear, right shar^^ly 
laid on. We both burst out laug-hino;. 

"JN^ext day nothing happened. The day after, having 
received an invitation from Mademoiselle Dumesnil to 
attend a nocturnal fete at her house, near the Barriere 
Blanche, I got into a hackney-coach, with my maid, at 
eleven o'clock. It was bright moonlight; and our road 
was along the Boulevards, which were then beginning to 
be built up. We were looking out at the houses they were 
building, when my maid said to me, ' Was it not some- 
where near here that Monsieur de S died'/' 'From 

what they told me,' I replied, ' it must have been in one 
of these two houses in front of us,' — pointing to them 


at the same time. At that moment the same musket- 
shot that had been j^ursuing me was fired from one of 
the houses, and passed through our carriage.* The 
coachman set off at full gallop, thinking he was attacked 
by robbers ; and we, when we arrived at our destina- 
tion, had scarcely recovered our senses. For my own 
part, I confess to a degree of terror which it was long 
before I could shake off. But this exploit was the last 
of its kind. I never again heard any discharge of fire- 

" To these shots succeeded a clapping of hands, given 
in measured time and repeated at intervals. These 
sounds, to which the favor of the public had accustomed 
me, gave me but trifling annoyance, and I took little 
trouble to trace their origin. My friends did, however. 
' We have Avatched in the most careful manner,' they 
would say to me : ' it is under your very door that the 
sounds occur. We hear them ; but we see nobody. It 
is another phase of the same annoyances that have fol- 
lowed you so long.' As these noises had nothing alarm- 
ing in them, I did not preserve a record of the j)eriod of 
their continuance. 

" N'or did I take special note of the melodious sounds 
by which, after a time, they were succeeded. It seemed 
as if a celestial voice warbled the prelude to some noble 
air which it was about to execute. Once the voice com- 
menced at the Carrefour de Bussy, and continued all the 
way until I reached my own door. In this case, as in 
all the preceding, my friends watched, followed the 
sounds, heard them as I did, but could never see any 

"Finally all the sounds ceased, after having continued, 

•:'• Whether a ball passed through the carriage does not clearly appear. 
The expression is, " D'une des maisons partit ce meme coup de fusil qui 
me poursuivait ; il traversa notre voiture." 


with intermissions, a little more than two years and a 

Whether the sequel may be regarded as supplying a 
sufficient explanation or not, it is proper to give it; as 
furnished by Mademoiselle Clairon. 

That lady desiring to change her residence, and the 
apartments she occupied being advertised to rent, several 
persons called to see them. Among the rest there was 
announced a lady advanced in years. She exhibited 
much emotion, which communicated itself to Made- 
moiselle CUviron. At last she confessed that it w^as not 
to look at the apartments she came, but to converse 
with their occupant. She had thought of writing, she 
said, but had feared that her motives might be misin- 
terpreted. Mademoiselle Clairon begged for an expla- 
nation ; and the conversation which ensued is thus re- 
ported by herself. 

''^1 was, mademoiselle,' said the lady, Hhe best 

friend of Monsieur de S ; indeed, the only one he was 

willing to see during the last year of his life. The hours, 
the days, of that year were spent by us in talking of 
you, sometimes setting you down as an angel, some- 
times as a devil. As for me, I urged him constantly to 
endeavor to forget you, while he protested that he 
would continue to love you even beyond the tomb. You 
weep,' she continued, after a pause ; ' and perhaps you 
will allow me to ask you wh}^ you made him so un- 
happy, and why, with your upright and aifectionate 
character, you refused him, in his last moments, the con- 
solation of seeing you once more.' 

" '■ Our affections,' I replied, ' are not within our own 

control. Monsieur de S had many meritorious and 

estimable qualities ) but his character was somber, mis- 
anthropic, despotic, so that he caused me to fear alike 
his society, his friendship, and his love. To make him 
happy, I should have had to renounce all human inter- 


course, even the talent I exercise. I was poor and 
proud. It has been my wish and my hope to accept no 
favor, — to owe every thing to my own exertions. The 
friendship I entertained for him caused me to try every 
means to bring him back to sentiments more cahn and 
reasonable. Failing in this, and convinced that his ob- 
stinate resolve was due less to the extremity of his pas- 
sion than to the violence of his character, I adopted, and 
adhered to, the resolution to separate from him forever. 
I refused to see him on his death-bed, because the sight 
of his distress would have made me miserable, to no 
good end. Besides, I might have been placed in the 
dilemma of refusing what he might ask me, with seem- 
ing barbarity, or acceding to it with certain prospect of 
future unhappiness. These, madame, were the motives 
which actuated me. I trust you will not consider them 
deserving of censure.' 

"■ 'It would be unjust,' she replied, 'to condemn you. 
AYe can be reasonably called upon to make sacrifices 
only to fulfill our promises or in discharge of our duty 
to relatives or to benefactors. I know that you owed 
him no gratitude; he himself felt that all obligation was 
on his part; but the state of his mind and the passion 
which ruled him were beyond his control; and your re- 
fusal to see him hastened his last moments. He counted 
the minutes until half-past ten, when his servant re- 
turned with the message that most certainly you would 
not come. After a moment of silence, he took my hand, 
and, in a state of despair which terrified me, he ex- 
claimed, " Barbarous creature ! But she shall gain nothing 
by it. I loill pursue her as long after my death as she has 
fursued me during my life.'' ... I tried to calm him. He 
was already a corpse.' "* 

'•■ " Memoires de 3fademoiselle Clairon, Actrice du Theatre Franoais, ecrita 
par clle-meiue," 2d cd., Paris, 1822, pp. 78 to 90. The editors state that 


This is the story as Mademoiselle Clairon herself re- 
lates it. She adds, " I need not say what effect these 
last words produced on me. The coincidence between 
them and the disturbances that had haunted me filled 
me with terror. ... I do not know what chance really 
is ; but I am very sure that what we are in the habit of 
calling so has a vast influence upon human affairs." 

In the Memoirs of the Duchesse d'Abrantes, written 
by herself, and containing so many interesting particu- 
lars of the French Kevolution and the stirring events 
which succeeded it, she states that, during the Con- 
sulate, when Mademoiselle Clairon was upward of 
seventy years of age, she (the duchess) made her ac- 
quaintance, and heard from her own lips the above 
story, of which she gives a brief and not very accurate 
compendium. In regard to the impression which Made- 
moiselle Clairon's mode of relating it produced on the 
duchess, that lady remarks, — 

^'I know not whether in all this there was a little 
exaggeration ; but she who usually spoke in a tone 
savoring of exaltation, when she came to relate this 
incident, though she spoke with dignity, laid aside all 
affectation and ever}^ thing which could be construed 
into speaking for effect. Albert, who believed in mag- 
netism, wished, after having heard Mademoiselle Clairon, 
to persuade me that the thing was possible. I laughed 
at him then. Alas! since that time I have myself 
learned a terrible lesson in credulity."* 

I know not according to what sound principles of 
evidence we can refuse credit to a narrative so well 
authenticated as this. The phenomena were observed, 

these Memoirs are published "without the change of a single word from 
the original manuscript." 

*■ " 3feino>res de Madame la Duchesse d'Abrantes, ecrits par elle-meme," 
2d ed., Paris, 1835, vol. ii. p. :59. 


not by Mademoiselle Clairon only, but by numerous 
other witnesses, including the most sharp-eyed and sus- 
picious of beings, — the police-officers of Paris. The 
record of them is still to be found in the archives of 
that police. They were not witnessed once, twice, fifty 
times only. They were observed throughout more than 
two entire years. The shot against a certain pane of 
her window was fired, so Mademoiselle Clairon ex- 
2")ressly tells us, every night, at the same hour, for three 
months, — therefore ninety times in succession. What 
theory, what explanation, will account for a trick of 
such a character that could for so long a space of time 
escape the argus eyes of the French j^olice? Then the 
cry at the moment when, at Eosely's suggestion, the 
phantom was evoked; the shot against the carriage from 

the house where Monsieur de S had resided : what 

imaginable trickery could be at the bottom of these? 

The incidents occurred in Mademoiselle Clairon's 
youth; commencing when she was twenty-two years 
and a half old and terminating when she was twenty- 
five. Xearly fifty years afterward, toward the close of 
her life, in that period of calm reflection which comes 
with old age, she still preserved that deep conviction of 
the reality of these marvels which imparted to the tone 
and manner of her narrative the attesting simplicity 
of truth. 

Finally, the coincidence to which Mademoiselle Clai- 
ron alludes is a double one; first as to the incidents 
themselves, then as to the period of their continuance. 

Monsieur de S , with his dying breath, declared that 

he would haunt her; and this she knew not till the 
persecution, commencing within half an hour after his 
decease, was ended. He said, further, that she should 
be followed by his spirit for as long a period as she had 
held him enthralled. But from the period of his ac- 
quaintance with her till his death was two years and a 



half; while from this hitter event till the elose of the 
disturbances there clajised, as the suiferer tells us, two 
years and a half more. 

Yet even if we admit in this case the reality of ultra- 
mundane agency, I do not presume to assert, as a corol- 
lary positively proved, that it ivas the spirit of Monsieur 

de S which fulfilled the threat he had made. That 

is certainly the most natural explanation which suggests 
itself. And if it be not the true one, chance, at least, 
is insufficient to account for the exact manner in which 
the declaration of the dying man tallies with the suffer- 
ings of her who was the object of his unfortunate and 
unavailing love. 

If we accept this narrative, it bears with it an addi- 
tional lesson. Supposing the agency of the disturbances 
to be spiritual, we cannot regard it as commissioned 
from God, any more than we do the annoyances which 
a neighbor, taking unjust offense, may inflict, in this 
world, on his offending neighbor in retaliation. Made- 
moiselle Clairon's conduct seems to have been justifi- 
able and prudent; certainly not meriting persecution or 

Why, then, were these annoyances permitted? When 
we can tell why earthly annoyances are often allowed to 
overtake the innocent, it will be time enough to insist 
upon an answer to the spiritual question. 

Natural phenomena occur under general laws, not by 
special dispensation. But the disturbances above re- 
corded were doubtless natural phenomena. 

We may imagine that every thing in the next world 
is governed by principles totally different from those which 
we see in operation here. But wh}- should we imagine 
this? Does not the same Providence preside on the 
further as on the hither side of the Dark Eiver? 

An example somewhat more closely resembling punish- 

MRS. lIALl/s STOHY. 447 

ment really merited and expressly sent is the following, 
— a- narrative which I owe to the kindness of Mrs. S. C. 
Hall, the author, and to the truth of which, as will be 
seen, she bears personal testimony. But even in this 
case can w^e rationally assert more than that the agency 
was permitted, not commissioned? 

I give the story in Mrs. Hall's own words. The cir- 
cumstances occurred in London. 


"All young girls have friendships one with another; 
and when I was seventeen my friend, above all others, 

was Kate L . She was a young Irish lady, my senior 

by three years, — a gentle, affectionate, pretty creature, 
much devoted to her old mother, and exercising constant 
forbearance toward a disagreeable brother w^ho would 
persist in playing the flute, though he played both out 
of time and tune. This brother was my hete noire; and 
whenever I complained of his bad playing, Kate would 
say, ^Ah, wait till Eobert comes home; he plays and 
sings like an angel, and is so handsome !' 

"This 'Eobert' had been with his regiment for some 
years in Canada; and his coming home was to be the 
happiness of mother and daughter. For three months 
before his return nothing else was talked of. If I had 
had any talent for fixlling in love, I should have done 

so, in anticipation, with Eobert L ; but that was 

not my weakness; and I was much amused with my 
friend's speculations as to whether Robert would fall in 
love Avith me, or I with \i\niy first. 

"When we met, there was, happily, no danger to either. 
He told Kate that her friend was always laughing; and 
I thought I had never looked on a face so beautiful in 
outline and yet so haggard and painful. His large blue 
eyes were deeply set, but always seemed looking for 
something they could not find. To look at him made 


mc uncomfortable. But this was not so strange as the 
change which, after a time, was evident in Kate. She 
had become, in less than a week, cold and constrained. 
I was to have spent a day with her; but she made some 
apology, and, in doing so, burst into tears. Something 
was evidently wrong, which I felt satisfied time must 

"In about a week more she came to see me by myself, 
looking ten years older. She closed the door of my 
room, and then said she desired to tell me something 
which she felt I could hardly believe, but that, if I w^as 
not afraid, 1 might come and judge for myself. 

'^ After Robert's return, she said^ for a w^eek or so 
they had been delightfully happy. But very soon — 
she thought about the tenth day, or rather night — they 
were alarmed by loud raps and knocks in Robert's 
room. It w^as the back room on the same floor on 

which Mrs. L and her daughter slept together in a 

large front bed-chamber. They heard him swearing at 
the noise, as if it had been at his servant; but the man 
did not sleep in the house. At last he threw his boots 
at it; and the more violent he became, the more violent 
seemed to grow the disturbance. 

"At last his mother ventured to knock at his door 
and ask what was the matter. He told her to come in. 
She brought a lighted candle and set it on the table. 
As she entered, her son's favorite pointer rushed out of 
the room. ^So,' he said, Hhe dog's gone! I have 
not been able to keep a dog in my room at night for 
years ; but under your roof, mother, I fancied, I hoped, 
I might escape a persecution that I see now pursues me 
even here. I am sorry for Kate's canary-bird that hung 
behind the curtain. I heard it fluttering after the first 
round. Of course it is dead !' 

"The old lady got up, all trembling, to look at poor 


Kate's bird. It ivas dead, at the bottom of the cage, — 
all its feathers ruffled. 

"Qs there no Bible in the room?' she inquired. 
^Yes/ — he drew one from under his pillow: Hhat, I 
think, protects me from blows.' He looked so dread- 
fully exhausted that his mother wished to leave the 
room, to get him some wine. -Xo: stay here: do not 
leave me!' he entreated. Hardly had he ceased speak- 
ing, when some huge, heavy substance seemed rolling 
down the chimney and flopped on the hearth; but Mrs. 

L saw nothing. The next moment, as from a strong 

wind, the light was extinguished, while knocks and raps 
and a rushing sound passed round the apartment. Eobert 

L alternately prayed and swore; and the old lady, 

usually remarkable for her self-possession, had great 
difficulty in preventing herself from fainting. The 
noise continued, sometimes seeming like violent thumps, 
sometimes the sounds appearing to trickle around the 

"At last her other son, roused by the disturbance, 
came in, and found his mother on her knees, praying. 

^'That night she slept in her son's room, or rather at- 
tempted to do so; for sleep was impossible, though her 
bed was not touched or shaken. KatQ remained outside 
the open door. It was impossible to see, because, imme- 
diately after the first plunge down the chimney, the 
lights were extinguished. 

"The next morning, Eobert told his family that for 
more than ten years he had been the victim of this spirit- 
persecution. If he lay in his tent, it was there, disturb- 
ing his brother officers, who gradually shunned the so- 
ciety of Hhe haunted man,' as they called him, — one who 
^must have done something to draw down such punish- 
ment.' When on leave of absence, he was generally 
free from the visitation for three or four nights; then it 
found him out again. He never was suffered to remain 

2 D 38« 


in a lodging; being regularly 'warned out' by the house- 
holders, wlio would not endure the noise. 

"After breakfast, the next-door neighbors sent in to 
complain of the noises of the preceding night. On the 
succeeding nights, several friends (two or three of whom 
I knew) sat u]) with Mrs. L , and sought to investi- 
gate, according to human means, the cause. In vain! 
They verified the fact; the cause remained hidden in 

''Kate wished me to hear for myself; but I had not 
courage to do so, nor would my dear mother have per- 
mitted it. 

"No inducement could prevail on the pointer to return 
to his master's room, by day or night. He was a recent 
purchase, and, until the first noise in London came, had 
appreciated Eobert's kindness. After that, he evidently 
disliked his master. ' It is the old story over again,' 
said Eobert. ' I could never keep a dog. I thought I 
would try again; but I shall never have any thing to 
love, and nothing will ever be permitted to love me.' 
The animal soon after got out; and they supposed it 
ran away, or was stolen. 

"The young man, seeing his mother and sister fading 
away under anxiety and want of rest, told them he 
could bear his affliction better by himself, and would 
therefore go to Ireland, his native country, and reside 
in some detached country cottage, where he could fish 
and shoot. 

"He went. Before his departure I once heard the 
poor fellow say, ' It is hard to be so punished; but per- 
haj^s I have deserved it.' 

" I learned, afterward, that there was more than a 
suspicion that he had abandoned an unfortunate girl 

* Loved not wisely, but too well ;' 


and that she died in America. Be this as it may, in 
Ireland, as elsewhere, the visitation followed him un- 

" This spirit never spoke, never answered questions; 
and the mode of communicating now so general was 
not then known. If it had been, there might have been 
a different result. 

"As it was, Eobert L 's mode of life in his native 

country gave his mother great anxiety. I had no clew, 
however, to his ultimate fate; for his sister would not 
tell me where in Ireland he had made his miserable 

"My friend Kate married immediately after her bro- 
ther left. She was a bride, a mother, and a corpse within 
a year; and her death really broke her mother's heart: 
so that in two years the family seemed to have vanished, 
as if I had never known them. I have sometimes 
thought, however, that if the dear old lady had not re- 
ceived such a shock from her son's spiritual visitor, she 
would not have been crushed by the loss of her daugh- 
ter; but she told me she had nothing left to bind her to 
this world. 

"I have often regretted that I had not watched with 
my young friend one night; but the facts I have thrown 
together were known to certainly twenty persons in 

One rarely finds a narrative better authenticated, or 
more strongly indicating the reality of an ultramundane 
agency, than this. It is attested by the name of a lady 
well and favorably known to the literary world. It is 
true that, deterred by her fears, she did not pei'sonally 
w^itness the disturbances. But if she had, would it have 
added materially to the weight of her testimony as it 
stands ? Could she doubt the reality of these appalling 

* Extracted from Mrs. Hall's letter tome, dated London, March 31, 1859 


demonstrations ? Can wc doubt it ? The testimony of 
the sister and the mother, whose lives this fearful visita- 
tion darkened if it did not shorten, to say nothing 
of the corroborative evidence furnished b}" friends who 
sat up with them expressly to seek out some exj^lana- 
tion, — can we refuse credit to all this? The haggard 
and careworn looks of the suflerer, his blighted life, — 
could these have been simulated ? The confession to his 
family, wrung from him by the recurrence, in his mother's 
house, of the torment he could no longer conceal, — could 
that be a lie? Dumb animals attested the contrary. 
The death of the canary-bird, the terror of the dog, — 
could fancy cause the one or create the other? Or shall 
we resort to the hypothesis of human agency? Ten 
years had the avenging sounds pursued the unfortunate 
man. In tent or tavern, in countr}^ or city, go where 
he would, the terrible Intrusion still dogged his steps. 
The maternal home was no city of refuge from the pur- 
suer. To the wilds of Ireland it followed the culprit 
in his retreat. Even if such human vengeance were 
conceivable, would not human ingenuity be powerless to 
carry it out ? 

But, if we concede the reality and the spiritual cha- 
racter of the demonstration, are we to admit also the 
explanation hypothetically suggested by the narrator? 

AVas Robert L really thus punished, through life, 

for one of the worst, because one of the most selfish and 
heartless and misery-bringing, in the list of human sins? 
He himself seemed to be of that opinion : " Perhaps I 
have deserved it" was the verdict of his conscience. It 
may be rash, with our present limited knowledge of 
ultramundane laws, to assert any thing in the pre- 
mises; knowing as we do that tens of thousands of 
such offenders j^ass through life unwhippcd of justice.* 

* It does not by any means follow, however, that because mauj' similar 
offenders escape unpunished, there was nothing retributive in the incident? 


Yet, if wc reject that hypothesis, what other, more 
plausible, remains? 

Even if we accept that explanation, however, it is not 
to be assumed, as of course, that it was the spirit of his 
poor victim that thus ceaselessly followed her deserter, 
the betrayer of her trust. Love ma}^ be changed, for a 
time, into vehement dislike: it is difficult to believe that, 
after the earthly tenement is gone, it should harden 
into hate eternal and unrelenting. And we can con- 
ceive that some other departed spirit, of evil nature, 
obtaining power over the wretched man by the aid of 
an impressible temperament wrought upon by a con- 
science haunted by remorse, might have been permitted 
(who can tell under what law or for what purpose?) 
to visit, with such retribution, the evil deed. 

But here we enter the regions of conjecture. These 
events happened long before Spiritualism had become a 
distinctive name. ISo attempt was made to communi- 
cate with the sounds. iSTo explanation, therefore, trust- 
worthy or apocryphal, was reached. There was no 
chance, then, given to conciliate; no opportunity afforded 
for propitiation. 

It has been alleged that, in many modern instances 
of what had assumed the character of spiritual inter- 
ference, the disturbance ceased when communication, by 
knockings, was sought and obtained. So it might have 

been, as Mrs. Hall suggests, in the case of Robert L . 

And, if so, the spirit-rap, lightly esteemed by many as 
it is, might have brought to repentance and saved from 
hopeless suffering — possibly premature death — a young 
man with heavy guilt, indeed, upon his soul, yet not a 
sinner above all men that dwelt in London. 

here related. In this mysteriouslj'-governed world some criminals escape, 
while others, less guilty perhaps, are overtaken. "Those eighteen upon 
whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think yo that they were 
einners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem ?" — Luke xiii. 4. 



A PLEASANTER task remains; to speak, namely, of the 
indications that reach iis of ultramundane aid and spi- 
ritual protection. 

Three stories have come to my knowledge, in each 
of which the subject of the narrative is alleged to 
have been saved from death by an apparition seeming 
to be the counterj^art of himself: one related of an Eng- 
lish clergyman, traveling, late at night, in a lonely lane, 
by whose side the figure suddenly appeared, and thus 
(as the clergyman afterward ascertained) deterred two 
men, bent on murder and robbery, from attacking him; 
and both the others — the one occurring to a student in 
Edinburgh, the other to a fashionable young man in 
Berlin — being examples in which the seer is said to have 
been warned from occupying his usual chamber, w^hich 
had he occupied, he would have perished by the falling 
in of a portion of the house. 

But these anecdotes, though for each there is plausible 
evidence, do not come w^ithin the rule I have laid down 
to myself of sufficient authentication. 

A somewhat similar story is related and vouched for 
by Jung Stilling, of a certain Professor Bohm, of Mar- 
burg, in whose case, however, the warning came by an 
urgent presentiment only, not b}" an actual apparition.* 

Such a case of presentiment, though the danger was 
to another, not to the subject of it, came to me, through 
the kindness of a lady, at first hand, as follows: — 

* '' Theon'e cler Gcistcrkundc." 



Those who were fiimiliar with the political history of 
our country twenty years ago remember well Dr. Linn, 
of Missouri. Distinguished for talents and professional 
ability, but yet more for the excellence of his heart, he 
received, by a distinction as rare as it was honorable, 
the unanimous vote of the Legislature for the office of 
Senator of the United States. 

In discharge of his Congressional duties, he was re- 
siding with his family ia Washington, during the spring 
and summer of 1840, the last year of Mr. Yan Buren's 

One day during the month of May of that year, Dr. 
and Mrs. Linn received an invitation to a large and 
formal dinner-party, given by a public functionary, and 
to which the most prominent members of the Adminis- 
tration party, including the President himself and our 
present Chief Magistrate, Mr. Buchanan, were invited 
guests. Dr. Linn was very anxious to be present; but, 
when the day came, finding himself suff'ering from an 
attack of indigestion, he begged his wife to bear his 
apology in person, and make one of the dinner-party, 
leaving him at home. To this she somewhat reluctantly 
consented. She was accompanied to the door of their 
host by a friend. General Jones, who promised to return 
and remain with Dr. Linn during the evening. 

At table Mrs. Linn sat next to General Macomb, who 
had conducted her to dinner; and immediately opposite 
to her sat Silas Wright, Senator from jSTew York, the 
most intimate friend of her husband, and a man by 
whose death, shortly after, the country sustained an 
irreparable loss. 

Even during the early part of the dinner, Mrs. Linn 
felt very uneasy about her husband. She tried to reason 
herself out of this, as she knew that his indisposition 

456 now SENATOR linn's 

was not at all serious; but iii vain. vShe mentioned her 
uneasiness to General Macomb; but he reminded her of 
what she herself had previousl}" told him, — that General 
Jones had promised to remain with Dr. Linn, and that, 
in the ver^^ unlikely contingency of any sudden illness, 
he would be sure to apprize her of it. Notwithstanding 
these representations, as dinner drew toward a close 
this unaccountable uneasiness increased to such an un- 
controllable impulse to return home, that, as she expressed 
it to me, she felt that she could not sit there a moment 
longer. Her sudden pallor was noticed by Senator 
"Wright, and excited his alarm. "I am sure you are ill, 
Mrs. Linn," he said: "what is the matter?" She re- 
plied that she was quite well, but that she must return 
to her husband. Mr. TVright sought, as General Macomb 
had done, to calm her fears; but she replied to him, ''If 
you wish to do me a favor for which I shall be grateful 
while I live, make some excuse to our host, so that we 
can leave the table." Seeing her so greatly excited, he 
complied with her request, though they were then but 
serving the dessert; and he and Mrs. Wright accom- 
panied Mrs. Linn home. 

As they were taking leave of her at the door of her 
lodgings. Senator Wright said, "I shall call to-morrow 
morning, and have a good laugh with the doctor and 
yourself over your panic apprehensions." 

As Mrs. Linn passed hastily up-stairs, she met the 
landlady. "How is Dr. Linn?" she anxiously asked. 
"Yery well, 1 believe," Was the reply: "he took a bath 
more than an hour ago, and I dare say is sound asleep 
by this time. General Jones said he was doing extremely 

"The general is with him, is he not?" 

^'I believe not. I think I saw him pass out about 
half an hour ago." 

In a measure reassured, Mrs. Linn hastened to her 


husband's bod-ebamber, the door of which was closed. 
As she opened it, a dense smoke burst upon her, in such 
stifling quantity that she staggered and fell on the 
threshold. Eecovering herself after a few seconds, she 
rushed into the room. The bolster was on fire, and the 
feathers burned with a bright glow and a suffocating 
odor. She threw herself upon the bed; but the fire, 
half smothered till that moment, was fanned by the 
draught from the opened door, and, kindling into sudden 
flame, caught her light dress, which was in a blaze on 
the instant. At the same moment her eye fell on the 
large bath-tub that had been used by her husband. She 
6j)rang into it, extinguishing her burning dress; then, 
returning to the bed, she caught up the pillow and a 
sheet that was on fire, scorching her arms in so doing, 
and plunged both into the water. Finally, exerting her 
utmost strength, she drew from the bed her insensible 
husband. It was then only that she called to the people 
of the house for aid. 

Dr. Sewell was instantly summoned. But it was full 
half an hour before the sufferer gave any signs whatever 
of returning animation. He did not leave his bed for 
nearly a week; and it was three months before he en- 
tirely recovered from the effects of this accident. 

^'How fortunate it was," said Dr. Sewell to Mrs. Linn, 
"that you arrived at the very moment you did! Five 
minutes more, — nay, three minutes, — and, in all human 
probability, you would have never seen your husband 
alive again." 

Mr. "Wright called, as he promised, the next morning, 
"Well, Mrs. Linn," said he, smiling, "you have found 
out by this time how foolish that strange presentiment 
of yours w^as." 

"Come up-stairs," she replied. And she led him to 
his friend, scarcely yet able to speak; and then she 



showed him the remains of the half-consumed bolster 
and partially-burned bed-linen. 

Whether the sight changed his opinion on the subject 
of presentiments I cannot tell; but he turned pale as a 
corpse, (Mrs. Linn said,) and did not utter a word. 

I had all the above particulars from Mrs. Linn her- 
self,* together with the permission to publish them in 
illustration of the subject I am treating, attested by 
date and names. 

There is one point in connection with the above narra- 
tive which is worthy of special examination. In case 
we admit that Mrs. Linn's irresistible impulse to leave 
the dinner-table was a spiritual impression, the question 
remains, was it a warning of evil then existing, or was 
it a presentiment of evil that was still to arise ? In 
other words, was it in its character only clairvoyant, or 
Avas it in its nature clearly prophetic? 

The impression was distinctly produced on Mrs. Linn's 
mind, as that lad}^ told me, at least half an hour before 
it became so urgent as to compel her to leave the enter- 
tainment. When she did leave, as the carriages were 
not ordered till eleven o'clock, and no hackney-coach 
was at hand, she and Mr. and Mrs. Wright, as she fur- 
ther stated to me, returned on foot. The distance being 
a mile and a half, they were fully half an hour in walk- 
ing it. It follows that Mrs. Linn was impressed to 
return more than an hour before she opened the door 
of the bedroom. 

Kow, it is highl}' improbable that the fire should have 
caught, or that any thing should have happened likely 
to lead to it, in the bedroom as much as an hour, or 
even half an hour, before Mrs. Linn's arrival. But if 
not, — if, at the moment Mrs. Linn was first impressed, 
no condition of things existed which, to human percep- 

* In AVashington, on the 4th of July, 1S59. 

THE trapper's STORY. 459 

tions, could indicate danger, — then, unless we refer the 
whole to chance coincidence, the case is one involving 
not only a warning presentiment, but a prophetic instinct. 

More distinct still, as an example of what seems pro- 
tective agency, is the following from a recent work by 
the Eev. Dr. Bushnell. 


" As I sat by the fire, one stormy November night, in 
a hotel-parlor, in the Xapa Yalley of California, there 
came in a most venerable and benignant-looking person, 
with his wife, taking their seats in the circle. The 
stranger, as I afterward learned, was Captain Yonnt, a 
man who came over into California, as a trapper, more 
than forty years ago. Here he has lived, apart from 
the great world and its questions, acquiring an immense 
landed estate, and becoming a kind of acknowledged 
patriarch in the country. His tall, manly person, and 
his gracious, paternal look, as totally unsophisticated in 
the expression as if he had never heard of a philosophic 
doubt or question in his life, marked him as the true 
patriarch. The conversation turned, I know not how, 
on spiritism and the modern necromancy; and he dis- 
covered a degree of inclination to believe in the reported 
mysteries. His wife, a much younger and apparently 
Christian person, intimated that probably he was pre- 
disposed to this kind of faith by a very peculiar expe- 
rience of his own, and evidently desired that he might 
be drawn out by some intelligent discussion of his 

"At mj' request, he gave me his story. About six or 
seven years previous, in a mid-winter's night, he had a 
dream in which he saw what appeared to be a company 
of emigrants arrested by the snows of the mountains 
and perishing rapidly by cold and hunger. He noted 


the very cast of the scenery, marked by a huge perpen- 
dicular front of white rock cliff; he saw the men cutting 
off what appeared to be tree-tops rising out of deep 
gulfs of snow; he distinguished the very features of the 
persons and the look of their particular distress. lie 
woke profoundly impressed with the distinctness and 
aj^parcnt realit}^ of his dream. At length he fell asleep 
and dreamed exactly the same dream again. In the 
morning he could not expel it from his mind. Falling 
in, shortly, with an old hunter comrade, he told him the 
story, and was only the more deej)ly impressed by his 
recognizing, without hesitation, the scenery of the 
dream. This comrade had come over the Sierra by the 
Carson Yalley Pass, and declared that a spot in the 
pass answered exactly to his description. By this the 
unsophisticated patriarch was decided. He immediately 
collected a company of men with mules and blankets 
and all necessary provisions. The neighbors were 
laughing, meantime, at his credulity. ^ISTo matter,' 
said he : * I am able to do this, and I will ; for I verily 
believe that the foct is according to my dream.' The 
men were sent into the mountains, one hundred and 
fifty miles distant, directly to the Carson Yalley Pass. 
And there they found the company in exactly the con- 
dition of the dream, and brought in the remnant alive."* 
Dr. Bushnell adds, that a gentleman present said to 
him, "You need have no doubt of this; for we Cali- 
fornians all know the facts and the names of the families 
brought in, who now look upon our venerable, friend as 
a kind of Savior." These names he gave, together with 
the residences of each; and Dr. Bushnell avers that he 
found the Californians everywhere ready to second the 
old man's testimony. " Nothing could be more natural," 

*• "Nature and the Supernatural" by Horace Bushnell, New York, 1858, 
pp. 475, 470. 

WAS IT accident)' 401 

continues the doctor, "than for the good-hearted patri 
arch himself to add that the brightest thing in his hfe, 
and that which gave him the greatest joy, was his simple 
faith in that dream/' 

Here is a fact known and acknowledged by a whole 
community. That it actually occurred is beyond cavil. 
But how could it occur by chance? In the illimitable 
wintry wilderness, with its hundred passes and its thou- 
sand emigrants, how can a purely accidental fancy be 
supposed, without ultramundane interference, to shape 
into the semblance of reality a scene actually existing 
a hundred and fifty miles off, though wholly unknown 
to the dreamer, — not the landscape only, with its white 
cliffs and its snow-buried trees, but the starving tra- 
velers cutting the tree-tops in a vain effort to avert cold 
and famine? He who credits this believes a marvel a 
thousand times greater than the hypothesis of spiritual 

In support of that hypothesis, however, there are 
well-attested narratives, indicating, more directly than 
this story of the Californian trapper, loving care on the 
part of the departed. One of these will be found in a 
work on the supernatural by the Eev. Dr. Edwards. He 
communicates it in the shape of an "extract of a letter 
from an enlightened and learned divine in the north of 
Germany." The incident occurred, he tells us, at Levin, 
a village belonging to the Duchy of Mecklenburg, not 
far from Demmin, in Prussian Pomerania, on the Sun- 
day before Michaelmas, in the year 1759. The extract 
referred to (the title only added by me) is as follows : — • 


"I will now, in conclusion, mention to you a very 
edifying story of an apparition, for the truth of which 
I can vouch, with all that is dear to me. My late 
mother, a pattern of true piety, and a woman who 



was regular in prayer, lost, quite unexpected!}'', 
after a short illness, arising from a sore throat, my 
younger sister, a girl of about fourteen years of ago. 
Now, as during her illness she had not spoken much 
with her on spiritual subjects, by no means supposing 
her end so near, (although my father had done so,) she 
reproached and grieved herself most profoundly, not 
only on this account, but also for not having sufficiently 
nursed and attended upon her, or for having neglected 
something that might have brought on her death. This 
feeling took so much hold of her, that she not only 
altered much in her appearance, from loss of appetite, 
but became so monosyllabic in speaking that she never 
expressed herself exce^Dt on being interrogated. She 
still, however, continued to pray diligently in her cham- 
ber. Being already grown up at the time, I spoke with 
my father respecting her, and asked him w^iat was to 
be done, and hoAV my good mother might be comforted. 
He shrugged his shoulders, and gave me to understand 
that, unless God interposed, he feared the worst. 

Now, it happened, some days after, when we were all, 
one Sunday morning, at church, with the exception of 
my mother, who remained at home, that on rising up 
from prayer, in her closet, she heard a noise as though 
some one was with her in the room. On looking about 
to ascertain whence the noise proceeded, something 
took hold of her invisibly and pressed her firmly to it, 
as if she had been embraced by some one, and the same 
moment she heard, — without seeing any thing whatever, 
— very distinctly, the voice of her departed daughter, 
saying quite plainly to her, ^ Mamma! mamma! I am 
so happy ! I am so happy !' Immediately after these 
words, the pressure subsided, and my mother felt and 
heard nothing more. But what a wished-for change 
did we all perceive in our dear mother on coming home! 
She had regained her speech and former cheerfulness; 


she ate and dnmk, and rejoiced with iis at the mercy 
which the Lord had bestow^ed upon her; nor during her 
whole life did she even notice again, with grief, the 
great loss w^hich she had suffered by the decease of this 
excellent daughter."* 

That this was a case of hallucination of two senses, 
hearing and feeling, can be considered probable only if 
no unequivocal examples of similar agency can be found. 
And if, to some persons, speech by an inhabitant of 
another world, audible upon earth, seem an impossible 
phenomenon, let them read the following, communicated 
to me by a gentleman to whose lady, as our readers 
have seen, I am already indebted for one of the most 
striking narratives in connection with personal in- 


"At "Worcester, a few weeks since, I accidentally met, 
at the house of a banker in that city, a lady whom I 
had not previously known; and from her lips I heard a 
story of a character so extraordinary that no common- 
place voucher for the veracity of the narrator would 
suffice, in the eyes of most people, to establish its 

" ISTor was it an ordinary testimonial which, on apply- 
ing to our host, he furnished to me. He had known the 
lady, he said, for more than thirty years. ' So great is 
her truth,' he added, ' so easily proved is her upright- 
ness, that I cannot entertain a doubt that she herself 
believes whatever she says.' Blameless in her walk and 
conversation, he regarded it as an incredibility that she 
should seek to deceive. Of strong mind, and intelligent 
upon all subjects, it seemed almost as difficult for him to 

«- " The Doctrine of the Supernatural EatahUshed," by Henry Edwards,, D.D., 
LL.D.. F.A.S., F.G.S., &q., London, 1S45, pp. 226 to 228. 


imagine that in the narrative he had himself frequently 
heard from her lips — clear and circumstantial as it was — 
she should have been a self-deceiver. And thus he was 
in a dilemma. For the flicts were of a character which 
he was extremely reluctant to admit; while the evidence 
was of a stamp wdiich it seemed impossible to question. 

^^ M}'" own observation of the lady, stranger as she was 
to me, confirmed every thing which her friend the banker 
had told me in her favor. There was in her face and 
manner, even in the tones of her voice, that nameless 
something, rarely deceptive, which carries conviction of 
truth. As she repeated the story, I could not choose but 
trust to her sincerity; and this the rather because she 
spoke with evident reluctance. ^It w^as rarely,' the 
banker said, Hhat she could be prevailed on to rela-te 
the circumstances, — her hearers being usually skeptics, 
more disposed to laugh than to sympathize with her.' 

"Add to this, that neither the lady nor the banker 
were believers in Spiritualism, — having heard, as they 
told me, ^ next to nothing' on the subject. 

" I commit no breach of confidence in the following 
communication. ^ If j^ou speak of this matter,' said 
the lady to me, ^ I will ask you to suppress the name 
of the place in France where the occurrences took 
place.' This I have accordingly done. I may add 
that the incidents here related had been the frequent 
subject of conversation and comment between the lady 
and her friends. 

" Thus premising, I proceed to give the narrative as 
nearly as I can in the lady's w^ords. 

"^ About the year 1820,' she said, ^we were residing 

at the seaport town of , in France, having removed 

thither from our residence in Suff'olk. Our family con- 
sisted of my father, mother, sister, a young brother 
about the age of twelve, and myself, together witli an 
English servant. Our house was in a loncl}' spot, on 


the outskirts of the town, with a broad, open beach 
around it, and with no other dwelling, nor any outbuild- 
ings, in its vicinity. 

" ' One evening my father saw, seated on a fragment 
of rock only a few yards from his own door, a figure 
enveloj^ed in a large cloak. Approaching him, my 
father bid him "good-evening;" but, receiving no reply, 
he turned to enter the house. Before doing so, however, 
he looked back, and, to his very great surprise, could 
see no one. His astonishment reached its height when, 
on returning to the rock where the figure had seemed 
seated, and searching all round it, he could discover no 
trace w^hatever of the appearance, although there was 
not the slightest shelter near where any one could have 
sought concealment. 

" ^ On entering the sitting-room, he said, " Children, I 
have seen a ghost I" — at which, as may be supposed, we 
all heartily laughed. 

^' ' That night, however, and for several succeeding 
nights, w^e heard strange noises in various parts of the 
house, — sometimes resembling moans underneath our 
window, sometimes sounding like scratches against 
the window-frames, while at other times it seemed as 
if a number of persons were scrambling over the roof. 
We opened our window again and again, calling out to 
know if any one were there, but received no answer. 

" ' After some days, the noises made their way into 
our bedroom, where my sister and myself (she twenty 
and I eighteen years of age) slept together. We alarmed 
the house, but received only reproaches, our parents 
believing that we were affected by silly fancies. The 
noises in our room were usually knocks, — sometimes 
repeated twenty or thirty times in a minute, some- 
times with the space perhaps of a minute between each. 

"'At length our parents also heard both the knoek- 
ings in our room and the noises outside, and were fain 


to admit that it was no imagination. Then the incident 
of the ghost was revived. But none of us were seriously 
akirmed. We became accustomed to the disturbances. 

" ' One night, during the usual knockings, it occurred 
to me to say, aloud, " If you are a spirit, knock six 
times." Immediately I heard six knocks, very distinctly 
given, and no more. 

''^ As time passed on, the noises became so familiar as 
to lose all terrifying, even all disagreeable, effect; and 
so matters passed for several weeks. 

" ' But the most remarkable part of my story remains 
to be told. I should hesitate to repeat it to you, were 
not all the members of my family witnesses of its truth. 
My brother — then, it is true, a boy only, now a man in 
years, and high in his profession — will confirm every par- 

" ' Besides the knockings in our bedroom, we began to 
hear — usually in the parlor — what seemed a human voice. 
The first time this startling phenomenon occurred, the 
voice w^as heard to join in one of the domestic songs of 
the family while my sister was at the piano. You may 
imagine our astonishment. But we were not long left 
in doubt as to whether, in this instance, our imagina- 
tions had deceived us. After a time, the voice began to 
speak to us clearly and intelligibly, joining from time to 
time in the conversation. The tones were low, slow, and 
solemn, but quite distinct : the language was uniformly 

"^The spirit — for such we called it — gave his name as 
Gaspar, but remained silent whenever we made inquiry 
touching his history and condition in life. Nor did ho 
ever assign any motive for his communications with us. 
We received the impression that he was a Spaniard; 
but I cannot recall any certain reason, even, for such 
belief He always called the family by their Christian 
names. Occasionall}' he would repeat to us lines of 


poetry. Kc never spoke on subjects of a religious nature 
or tendency, but constantly inculcated Christian morality, 
seeming desirous to impress upon us the wisdom of virtue 
and the beauty of harmony at home. Once, when my 
sister and myself had some slight dispute, we heard the 

voice saying, "M is wrong; S is right." From 

the time he first declared himself he Avas continually 
giving us advice, and alwmjs for cjood^ 

" ' On one occasion my father was extremely desirous 
to recover some valuable papers which he feared might 
have been lost. Gaspar told him exactly where they 
were, in our old house in Suffolk ; and there, sure enough, 
in the very place he designated, they were found. 

"'The matter went on in this manner /or more than 
three years. Every member of the family, including the 
servants, had heard the voice. The presence of the 
spirit — for we could not help regarding him as present 
— was always a pleasure to us all. AYe came to regard 
him as our companion and protector. One day he said, 
" I shall not be with you again for some months.'^ And, 
accordingly, for several months his visits intermitted. 
When, one evening at the end of that time, we again 
heard the well-known voice, ^' I am with you again V 
we hailed his return with joy. 

"'^ At the times the voice was heard, we never saw any 
appearance; but one evening my brother said. " Graspar, 
I should like to see you;" to which the voice replied, 
'' You shall see me. I will meet you if you go to the 
farthest side of the square." He went, and returned pre- 
sently, saying, " I have seen Gaspar. He was in a large 
cloak, with a broad-brimmed hat. I looked under the 
hat, and he smiled upon me." "Yes," said the voice, 
j;oining in, "that was I." 

"'But the manner of his final departure was more 

* The italics are in the original manuscript. 


toiic'iiino-, even, than his kindness while he stayed. We 
returned to Suffolk; and there, as in France, for several 
weeks after our arrival, Gaspar continued to converse 
with us, as usual. One day, however, he said, ''I am 
about to leave you altogether. Harm would come to 
you if I were to bo with you here in this country, 
where your communications with me would be misun- 
derstood and misinterpreted." 

"'From that time,' concluded the lady, in that tone 
of sadness with which one speaks of a dear friend re- 
moved by death, — 'from that time to this, we never 
heard the voice of Gaspar again!' 

" These are the facts as I had them. They made me 
think; and they may make your readers think. Expla- 
nation or opinion I pretend not to add, further than this: 
that of the perfect good faith of the narrator I entertain 
no doubt whatever. In attestation of the story as she 

related it, I afSx my name. 

''S. C.Hall. 

"London, June 25, 1859." 

What are we to think of a narrative coming to us so 
directly from the original source, and told in so straight- 
forward a manner, as this? What hypothesis, be it of 
trickery, self-delusion, or hallucination, will serve us to 
set it aside? One, two, a dozen, incidents, running 
through a week or two, might, at utmost need, be ex- 
plained away, as the result, perhaps, of some mystifica- 
tion, — possibly of some mistake of the senses. But a 
scries of phenomena extending throughout three years, 
witnessed, long before the era of Spiritualism, in the 
quiet of domestic privacy, by ever}^ member of an en- 
lightened family, observed, too, without the slightest 
terror to mislead, or excitement to disqualify as Avitness, 
making, day after day, on all the witnesses, the same 
impression, — upon what rational plea, short of suspicion 


of willful deception, ciin \vc set iiside, as untrustworthy, 
such observations as these ? 

I seek in vain any middle ground. Either an oral 
communication, apparently from an ultramundane 
source, is possible; or else a cultivated and intelligent 
family, of high standing and unimpeached honor, com- 
bined to palm upon their friends a stark lie. Not the 
narrator alone: her father, mother, brother, sister, must 
all have been parties to a gross and motiveless falsehood, 
persisted in through a lifetime; nay, a falsehood not 
motiveless only, but of certain and evident injury in a 
worldly sense. For such a story, as every one knows, 
cannot, in the present prejudiced state of public opinion, 
be told (let the narrator be ever so highly respected) 
without risk of painful comment and injurious surmise. 

On the other hand, that a disembodied spirit should 
speak to mortal ears, is one of those ultramundane phe- 
nomena, alleged in several of the preceding narratives, 
which the reader may have found it the most difficult 
to credit or conceive. 

But my tavsk as a compiler draws near its termination. 
I must set a limit to the number of my narrative-proofs, 
or else depart from the rule I have laid down to myself, 
to study brevity, and to place these proofs, so far as I 
may, within the reach of all, by restricting this treatise 
to the limits of a single duodecimo volume. Yv^ith one ad- 
ditional narrative, therefore, out of a multitude that re- 
main on my hands, I here, for the present, close the list. 


In a beautiful country residence, at no great distance 
from London, in one of the prettiest portions of Eng- 
land, live a gentleman and his wife, whom I shall desig- 
nate as Mr. and Mrs. ^Y. They have been married six- 
teen years, but have no children. 



Four or live j'ears ago, there came to reside with them 
a friend of the family, an aged gentleman who had 
already passed his eightieth year, and whose declining 
strength and increasing infirmities gradually demanded 
more and more constant care. Mrs. W. tended him with 
the anxious affection of a daughter; and when, after 
some four years, he died, she mourned him as if she had 
indeed lost a father. Her sorrow for his loss was the 
deeper because of that beautiful characteristic of her 
sex, w^hich causes a true-hearted woman to lament most 
the feeble child, or the aged sufferer, whose helplessness 
has seemed to cast them upon her as a constant burden, 
but w4iom that very dependence has so endeared to her, 
that, when death takes from her the object of her care, 
she feels rather a blank in her existence than a release 
from daily toil or nightlj'' watch. 

In such a frame of mind as this, and feeling more than 
usually dej^ressed, Mrs. W. went one morning, not long 
after her old friend's death, into her garden, in search 
of some distraction from the grief that oppressed her. 
She had been there but a few minutes, when she felt a 
strong impulse to return to the house and write. 

It ought here to be stated that Mrs. W. is not, nor ever 
has been, what, in modern phrase, is called a S2:)iritualist. 
Indeed, what she had heard of Spiritualism years before 
had caused her to regard it as a mischievous delusion; 
and though, later, she had begun somewhat to doubt how 
far she might have been unjustly prejudiced, she had 
never sat at a table, nor otherwise evoked Spiritual phe- 
nomena; it cannot be regarded as such that on one or 
two occasions she had sat down, out of curiosity, to see 
if her hand would write automatically; a few unintelli- 
gible figures or unimportant words having been the only 

On the present occasion, however, the impulse to 
write, gradually increasing, and attended with a nervous 


and uneasy sensation in the right arm, became so strong 
that she yielded to it; and, returning to the house and 
picking up a sheet of note-paper and a small portfolio, 
she sat down on the steps of the front door, put the 
portfolio on her knee, with the sheet of note-paper 
across it, and placed her hand, with a pencil^ at the upper 
left-hand corner, as one usuall}" begins to write. After a 
time the hand was gradually drawn to the lower right- 
hand corner, and began to write backward; completing 
the first line near the left-hand edge of the sheet, then 
commencing a second line, and finally a third, both on 
the right, and completing the writing near to where 
she had first put down her pencil. Xot only was the 
last letter in the sentence written first, and so on until 
the commencing letter was written last, but each sepa- 
rate letter was written backward, or inversely; the 
pencil going over the lines which composed each letter 
from right to left. 

Mrs. W. stated to me that (as may well be conceived) 
she had not the slightest perception of what her 
hand was w^riting: no idea passing through her mind at 
the time. AYhen her hand stopped, she read the sen- 
tence as she would have read what any other person 
had written for her. The handwriting was cramped 
and awkward, but, as the fac-simile will show,* legible 
enough. The sentence read thus : — 

'' Ye are sorrowing as one without hope. Cast thy burden 
upon God, and he will help thee." 

* See Plate I. It would seem that it ought to have read, "TJiou art mr- 
roicing," &c. If I am asked whence this error in the grammatical con- 
struction of the sentence, I reply that I can no more account for it than I 
can for the writing itself. Xo one could write more correctly or gram- 
matically than does Mrs. W. It was not through her, therefore, as in 
the case of an illiterate scribe we might have imagined it, that the error 
occurred. Its occurrence is additional proof that her mind had no agency 
in the matter; though it would probably be stretching conjecture too far tc 
imagine that it was so intended. 


Mrs. AY. afterward said to me that if an angel from 
heaven had suddenly appeared to her and pronounced 
these words, her astonishment could scarcely have 
exceeded that with which she first read them. She 
felt awe-stricken, as if in the presence of some superior 
power. She sat long in silent contemplation. Then 
she perused, again and again, the sentence before her, 
half doubting, the while, the evidence of her own senses. 
After a time she again took pencil in hand, and tried 
to write something backward. Eut the simplest w^ord, 
of three or four letters, w^as too much for her. She 
puzzled over it without being able to trace it backward, 
so as to be legible when done. 

Then the question arose in her mind, "Whence is 
this? Who caused me to write that sentence V 

Her thoughts involuntarily reverted to the aged friend 
whom she had just lost. Could his spirit, from its home 
in another Avorld, have dictated those words of consola- 
tion ? Could he have been permitted to guide her hand 
so that she might thus receive assurance that he sympa- 
thized with her sorrow and took thought how he might 
relieve it ? 

That was the conclusion to which she finally inclined. 
Yet, desiring further assux'ance, she silently prayed 
that the spirit which had written this sentence through 
her hand might also be allowed, through the same 
medium, to subscribe its name. And then she placed 
her pencil at the foot of the paper, confidently expect- 
ing- that the name of the fi'iend whom she had lost would 
be written there. 

The event, however, wholly belied her expectation. 
The pencil, again drawn nearly to the right-hand edge of 
the paper, wrote, backward as before, not the expected 
name, but the initials R. G. D. 

Mrs. W., as she read them, felt herself shudder and 
turn pale. The grave seemed giving foi-tli its dead. 


The initials were those of a young man wlio, eighteen 
years before, had sought her in marriage, but ^hom, 
though she had long known and highly esteemed him, 
she had rejected, — not experiencing for him any senti- 
ment warmer than friendship, and perhaps having 
other preferences. He had received her refusal without 
complaint or expostulation, "You never gave mo 
reason to expect," he said, gently, "that I should be ac- 
cepted. But I was resolved to know my fate; for I 
could endure suspense no longer. I thank you for 
having dealt so candidly with me. I see now that you 
can never be my wife ; but no one else ever shall be. So 
much, at least, is within my 2:)0wer.'' 

And with that he had left her. Twelve years after- 
ward he died, a bachelor. When Mrs. W. had first 
heard of his death, she had felt a momentary ])a.Tig, as 
the thought arose that she perhaj)s, in crossing his life's 
path, had darkened and made solitary his existence. 
But, as she had nothing with which to reproach herself 
in the matter, and as she had never felt for him more 
than for any other deserving friend, she soon ceased to 
think of him; and she solemnly assured me that she 
could not call to mind that his name, even, had recurred 
to her remembrance, for several years, until the moment 
when it was thus suddenly and unexpectedly called up. 

This occurred on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 1, 
1859. A little more than a month afterward, to wit, on 
Monday, April 4, about four o'clock in the afternoon, 
while Mrs. AY. was sitting in her parlor, reading, she 
suddenly heard, apparently coming from a small side- 
table near her, three distinct raps. She listened; and 
again there came the same sounds. Still uncertain 
whether it mio-ht not be some accidental knockinc;;, she 
said, " If it be a spirit Avho announces himself, will he 
repeat the sound ?" Whereupon the sounds were in- 
stantly and still more distinctly repeated; and Mrs. 



W. became assured that they proceeded from the side- 

She then said, "If I take pencil and paper, can I be 
informed who it is?'^ Immediately there were three 
raps, as of assent; and when she sat down to write, her 
hand, writing backward, formed the same initials as 
before,— E. G. D. 

Then she questioned, " For what purpose were these 
sounds V To which the reply, again written backward, 
was, " To show you that we are thinking arid working for 

Nor was this all. Ten days after the last incident;, 
namely, on Thursday afternoon, April 14, Mrs. W., 
happening to call to mind that R. G. D. had once pre- 
sented to her a beautiful black Newfoundland dog, 
thought within herself, "How much I should like to 
have just such an animal now !'' And, one of her ser- 
vants happening to be near at the time, she said to her, 
"I wish I had a fine large Newfoundland for a walking- 

The next morning, after breakfast, a gentleman was 
announced. He proved to be an entire stranger, whom 
Mrs. W. did not remember to have ever seen before. 
He was a surveyor, from a neighboring town, and led 
with him a noble black Newfoundland, as high as the 
table. After apologizing for his intrusion, he said ho 
had taken the liberty to call, in order to ask Mrs. 
W-'s acceptance of the dog he had brought with him. 
" You could not have offered me a more acceptable 
gift," said Mrs. AY. ; " but will you allow me to ask 
what induced you to think of bringing him to me ?" 
" I brought him," he said, " because I do not intend, for 
the future, to keep dogs, and because I felt assured that 
in you he would lind a kind mistress." 

Mrs. W. informed me that she had ascertained, to 

* For fac-simile, see Plate II. 




.d-—- ^ 


an absolute certainty, that the girl to whom she had spoken 
on the matter had not mentioned to any one her wish 
to have a dog, and, indeed, that the casual remark had 
passed from the girl's mind and she had never thought 
of it again, A few hours only, it will be observed, in- 
tervened between the expression of the wish and the 
offer of the animal. 

Those who are as well acquainted with Mrs. W". as 
I am know that uprightness and conscientiousness are 
marked traits in her character, and that the above in- 
cidents may be confidently relied on as the exact truth. 
I had them direct from Mrs. W. herself, a few days 
after they occurred; and that lady kindly ceded to me 
the original manuscript of the two communications. 

The circumstances, taken in connection, are, of their 
kind, among the most extraordinary with which I am 
acquainted. And to the candid reader it will not bo 
matter of surprise to learn that Mrs. AY., until then 
a skeptic in the reality of any direct agencies from 
another world, should have confessed to me that her 
doubts were removed, that she felt comforted and 
tranquilized, and that she accepted the indications 
thus vouchsafed to her, unsought, unlooked for, as 
sufficient assurance that she was, in a measure, under 
spiritual protection, — thought of, cared for, even from 
beyond the tomb. 

Before w^e decide that a faith so consolatory is un- 
founded, w^e shall do well to review the facts of this case. 

Whence the sudden impulse in the garden ? People 
are not in the habit of imagining that they desire to 
write, unless they have something to say. Mrs. AY. 
was not a Spiritualist, nor yet residing among Spiritual- 
ists: so that no epidemic agency can be urged in 
explanation, even if such a suggestion have any weight. 
The phenomenon which presented itself w\as strictly 


WhcncC; again, the writing backward? In that the 
will had no agency. As little had expectation. Mrs. 
W., in her normal state, had not the power so to 
write. By diligent practice she might, doubtless, have 
acquired it. But she had no such practice. She had 
not acquired it. And, not having acquired it, it was as 
much a phj'sical impossibility for her, of herself, so to 
write, as for a man, picking up a violin for the first 
time, to execute thereon, at sight, some elaborate passage 
from Handel or Beethoven. 

Again, whence the intention to write after so unex- 
ampled and impracticable a manner? Where there 
is an intention there must be an intelligence. It was 
not Mrs. W. who intended -, for the result struck her with 
aAve, — almost with consternation. It was not her intelli- 
gence, therefore, that acted. What intelligence was it ? 

Kor can we reasonably doubt what the intention was. 
Had Mrs. AY.'s hand written forward, she would, in all 
probability, have remained in uncertainty whether, half 
unconsciously perhaps, the words were not of her own 
dictation. The expedient of the backward writing pre- 
cluded any such supposition ; for she could not of her- 
self do unconsciously a thing which she could not do at 
all. And this expedient seems to have been ingeniously 
devised to cut off any supposition of the kind. Then 
here we have the invention of an expedient, the display 
of ingenuity. But who is the inventor? Who displays 
the ingenuity? I confess my inability to answer these 

The incident of the dog, if it stood alone, would be 
less remarkable. A thing may happen when there are 
ten thousand chances to one against it. A lady might 
to-day express a wish for a Newfoundland dog, and a 
perfect stranger, who knew nothing of that wish, might 
to-morrow offer her one. And all this might occur, as 
we usually say, by chance. But in the case before us 


there are the attendant circumstances to be taken into 
account. R. G. D. had, in former days, given Mrs. W. 
just such a dog. She had been thinking of him and of 
his gift. She had been told, ten days before, through 
some agency which she had found it impossible to inter- 
pret as mundane, that he was thinking and working for 
her. Was she superstitious when she said to me, as she 
did, that "nothing could convince her that a spirit did 
not influence the owner of the dog to bring it to her" ? 

I think her conclusion, under the circumstances, was 
a natural one. I believe that few having the same per- 
sonal experience as had Mrs. W. would have resisted it. 
Was it reasonable, as well as natural? It is difficult to 
say why it was not, unless we assume it beyond question 
as a thing impossible that a departed spirit should com- 
municate with a living person, should read a living per- 
son's thoughts, should influence a living person's actions. 

But it is clearly a waste of time to examine a question 
at all which we have resolved in advance to decide in 
the negative. 

And, if we have not so resolved, shall we not do well 
fairly to meet the questions which this and the preceding 
narratives suggest ? If outside of this material ex- 
istence there be occasionally exercised a guardian thought 
for the welfare of men ; if, sometimes, comfort may reach 
US, and agencies may work for us, coming over from that 
world to which we are all fast hastening; if there be an 
earthly love that is stronger than death; are these influ- 
ences, if actual influences they be, so undesirable- in 
themselves, fraught with so little of consolation, so in- 
capable of cheering a drooping soul, so powerless to 
sustain a sinking spirit, so impotent to vivify the faith 
in a Hereafter, that we may properly repulse them, 
at the threshold, as graceless aberrations, or put them 
aside, unscrutinized, as unholy or incredible? 




" Natura non fecit saitum." — Linn^us. 

It suffices not that a theory be siipjDorted by a strong 
array of j^roofs. To merit grave notice or challenge 
rational belief, it must not involve results in themselves 

But how stands the case in regard to the theory for 
which, in the preceding pages, I have been adducing 
evidence ? — the hjq^othesis, namely, that when the spirit 
of man, disengaged from the body, passes to another 
state of existence, its thoughts and affections may still 
revert to earth ; and that, in point of fact, it does occa- 
sionally make itself perceptible to the living, whether in 
dream or in the light of day, — sometimes to the sense of 
sight, sometimes to that of hearing or of touch, some- 
times by an impression which we detect in its effect 
but cannot trace to its origin ; these various spiritual 
agencies wearing in this instance a frivolous, in that 
a solemn, aspect, now assuming the form of petty annoy- 
ance, now of grave retribution, but more frequently 
brightening into indications of gentle ministry and 
loving guardianship. 

If these things cannot be admitted without giving 
entrance in their train to inferences clearly absurd, it 



avails little how great a weight of evidence may have 
been brought to bear in their favor : the decision must 
be against them at last. 

So thought De Foe.* A disciple of Luther, and sharing 
his aversions, he rejected, with that sturdy reformer, 
not only the Purgatory of Romish theology, but the idea 
of any future state mediate between heaven and hell. 
Therefore, he argued, the dead cannot return. From 
heaven they cannot ; who can imagine the beatitude of 
the eternally blessed rudely violated for purpose bo 
trivial ? And for the damned in hell, how shall we sup- 
pose for them leisure or permission to leave, on earthly 
errand, a prison-house of which the gates are closed on 
them forever ? 

The premises conceded, these conclusions fairly follow. 
The dead cannot reasonably be imagined to return either 
from heaven or from hell. Then, if there be no mediate 
state after death, the theory of spiritual appearance or 
agency upon earth, by those who have gone before us, 
is inadmissible. 

This must be conceded the rather because the occa- 
sions of alleged return are sometimes of very slight 
moment. A servant-girl is attracted to earth by the 
letters and the portrait of her lover. The proprietors of 
an old house return to lament over its decay and grieve 
for its change of ownership. A father appears to his 
son to prevent him from unnecessarily disbursing a few 
pounds. A poor-camp follower, at death, has left un- 
satisfied a debt scantly reaching a dollar, and to effect 
the repayment of that pittance her spirit forsakes, night 
after night, its eternal abode ! 

Here we come upon another necessary inference. 
If these stories be true, the recently-departed spirit 
must retain, for a longer or shorter period, not only 

* See page 430. 


its general habits of thiought and motives of action, but 
even its petty peculiarities and favorite predilections. 
There must be no sudden change of individuality at the 
moment of death, either for the better or for the worse. 
Men will awake in another life, the body indeed left 
behind, and, with it, its corporeal instincts, its physical 
infirmities; yet each will awake the same individual, 
morally, socially, intellectually, as when on his earthly 
death-bed he lay down to rest. 

In all this there is nothing tending to affect, either 
affirmatively or negatively, the doctrine of a final Day 
of Judgment. My argument but regards the state of 
the soul at the time of its emancipation by death, and 
for a certain period thereafter. 

But so fiir it evidently does go. It is idle to deny it. 
The theory that departed friends may revisit us, and 
watch over us here, clearly involves two postulates : — 

First, that, when death prostrates the body, the spirit 
remains not, slumbering in the grave, beside moldering 
flesh and bone, but enters at once upon a new and 
active phase of life ; not a state of ineffable Miss, nor 
yet of hopeless misery, but a condition in which cares 
may affect, and duties may engage, and sympathies may 
enlist, its feelings and its thoughts. 

Secondly, that the death-change reaches the body only, 
not the heart or the mind; discarding the one, not 
transforming the others. 

In other words, Death destroys not, in any sense, 
either the life or the identity of man. Nor does it per- 
mit the spirit, an angel suddenly become immaculate, 
to aspire at once to heaven. Far less does it condemn 
that spirit, a demon instantly debased, to sink incon 
tinently to hell. 

All this may sound heterodox. The more important 
inquir}^ is, whether it be irrational. Nor was it hetero- 
dox, but most strictly canonical, until many centuries 


had intervened between the teachings of Christ and the 
creeds of his followers. If we adopt it now^ we may bo 
running counter to the preponderating sentiment of 
modern Protestantism^ but we arc returning to the 
faith, universally confessed, of primitive Christianity.* 
I do not state this as an argument for its truth, but 
only as a reminder of its lineage. 

Luther was a man to be praised and admired, — 
courageous, free-thoughted, iron-willed, — a man for his 
time and his task. But Luther, like other men, had 
his sins and his errors to answer for. Every thing about 
him was strong, his prejudices included. When his will 
reacted against deep-rooted opposition, the power of its 
stubborn sj^^i^^g* sometimes carried him beyond truth 
and reason. He always plied his reforming besom with 
gigantic effect, not always with deliberate consideration. 
He found Purgatory an abuse; and, to make radical 
work, he swept out Hades along with it.f 

* " Thus the matter stands historically. In the last quarter of the second 
century, when the Christian churches emerge clearly into the light, we find 
them universally in possession of the idea of a mediate place of souls, — one 
which was neither heaven nor hell, but preliminary to either. It was not 
an idea broached by heretics here and there. It was the belief of the Church 
xmiversal, which nobody called in question." — "Foreghams of Immortality," 
hj Edward H. Sears, 4th edition, Boston, published by the American Uni- 
tarian Association, 1858, p. 268. 

Unable, for lack of space, to enter on the historical evidences for the 
above, I refer the reader to Mr. Sears's work, where he will find these 
succinctly set forth. Also to " The Belief of the First Three Centuries con- 
cerning Christ's Mission to the Under- World," by Frederick Huidekoper, 
where he may read the following passage, with numerous quotations from 
the Fathers in attestation : — " It can scarcely bo that, at the opening of the 
second century, or the close of the first, the doctrine of Christ's under-world 
mission, so far, at least, as regards the preaching to, and liberation of, 
the departed, was not a widely-spread and deeply-seated opinion among 
Christians." . . . '' On the essential features of this doctrine the Catholics 
and heretics were of one mind. It was a point too settled to admit dis- 
pute." — p. 138, quoted by Sears, p. 262. 

f A more scrupulous man would have been arrested by the consideration 
2F 41 


It is a question of infinite importance whether, in out- 
rooting the faith of preceding ages,* he committed not 
only a grave error in fact, but also a grievous mischief 
in practice. 

When the great Eeformer denied a mediate state after 
death, the denial involved a hypothesis of an extraordi- 

that Peter, who must have known his Master's views on the subject, speaks 
of the gospel being communicated to the dead, and of Christ himself preach- 
ing even to the spirits of those who perished in the Deluge. (1 Peter iii. 
19, 20, and iv. 6.) But where, except in Hades, could this have hap- 
pened ? 

If it be objected that the word Hades does not even occur in the New 
Testament, the reply is, that Luther — whom our English translators fol- 
lowed — unceremoniously shut it out. He caused the two words Gehenna 
and Hades to be equally rendered Hell. "Yet," (I quote from Sears,) " as 
Dr. Campbell has shown conclusivelj' in his admirable and luminous essay, 
those two words have not the same meaning ; and only the former answers 
to the modern and Christian idea of hell. The word Hades, occurring ton 
times in the New Testament, never anawers to that idea, and never ought to 
have been so rendered." — Work cited, p. 277. 

If it be further argued that, at least, there is in Scripture no deliberate 
expounding of this doctrine of Hades, the reply is, that an item of faith uni- 
versally admitted as beyond question by Jew as well as Christian was not 
likely to be unnecessarily elaborated, but only incidentally adverted to. 

* The Greeks had their Hades ; though, with a Chinese reverence for the 
rites of sepulture, they conceived it to be filled chiefly by the restless and 
wandering shades of those whose bones lay exposed, neglected and for- 
gotten ; and if at last funeral honors were paid to appease the soul, its re- 
ward was not heaven, but eternal rest. Nor do they appear to have had 
the idea of spiritual guardianship, except as exerted by the gods. The 
Trojan hero does not anticipate any return from Pluto's realm to watch 
over the spouse he loved, but rather an eternal separation : — 

" Thy Hector, wrapped in everlasting sleep, 
Shall neither hear thee sigh nor see thee weep.'* 

The Sheol of the Jews — at least, according to the later Rabbins — had 
three regions : an upper sphere, of comparative happiness, where were the 
patriarchs, prophets, and others worthy to be their associates ; a second, 
lower region, dull and dark, the temporary abode of the wicked; and, 
lowest of all, Gehenna, untenanted now, and to remain empty until the Day 
of Judgment shall have sent the condemned to occupy it. 


nary character. Since without Hades there can bo 
neither hope nor reform nor preparation beyond the 
grave, we are compelled to suppose, in the case of man, 
what Linnffius says is not to be found in the entire 
economy of Nature, — a sudden leap, as it were, across a 
gi*eat chasm, — a transforming change as instantaneous as 
it is complete. We are compelled to imagine that this 
change is preceded by no gradual progress nor effected 
by any human exertion. 

According to the varying notions of the believers in 
this abrui)t metamorphosis, it may occur at the moment 
of dissolution, or else at some epoch indefinitely distant. 
A portion of Luther's followers, embarrassed to dispose 
of the human soul in the interval between its separation 
from the body and its summons at some remote period 
by the last trump, partially adopt, in their difliculty, the 
Grecian doctrine of peaceful rest. According to them, 
the soul, overcome by Death, like any mortal thing, 
steeped in unconsciousness, suffers a virtual sepulture, 
a suspension of sentient existence, a species of tempo- 
rary annihilation, to endure. He alone knows how long 
who has fixed the Day of Judgment. Other Lutherans, 
however, shocked at this approach to the dictum of re- 
volutionary philosophy promulgated in France's Days 
of Terror, — " Death is an eternal sleep," — seek to evade 
the dilemma by supposing that there is no great, uni- 
versal, far-off Day of Judgment at all, but that the day 
of death is to each one of us the day of retribution also; 
that the soul, at the moment of emancipation, ascends 
to the tribunal of God, there instantly to be preferred to 
heaven or consigned to hell. 

Under either hypothesis, the concej^tion of a sudden 
revolution of all thought and feeling is clearly involved. 
Man, bright though his virtues be, and dark his sins, is, 
while he remains here, neither seraph nor demon. 
Among all our associates, be they valued friends or 


mere distant acquaintances, how many, even of the 
very best, are suited to enter heaven ? How many, even 
of the very worst, are fit only for hell ? What an over* 
whelming majority are far too imperfect for the one, 
yet, with some redeeming virtue, much too good for the 
other! With exceptions, if any, altogether too rare to 
invalidate the general rule, man does not attain, upon 
earth, either the perfection of virtue or the extremity 
of degradation. 

But what future may we reasonably expect for a being 
so constituted, at the hands of a God throughout whose 
works no principle shines out more luminously than that 
of universal adaptation ? A final doom, or a* further 
novitiate? — which ? 

The latter, evidently, unless we assume that the adap- 
tation is to be precipitated, as by unexampled miracle ; 
unless, in the twinkling of an eye, the comparative^ 
good man is to be relieved, without effort of his, of all 
frailty that were unworthy of celestial membership, 
w^hile the comparatively wicked man is to be shorn, 
equally by an agency which he controls not, of every 
latent spark or lingering scruple that rates, if ever so 
little, above the infernal. 

Let us say nothing of the injustice apparently in- 
volved in such a theory. But where do we find, in a 
single page of that Great Book which has been spread 
open since the creation of the world to all God's 
rational creatures, one indication, even the most 
trifling, that sustains by the probabilities of analogy 
the theory itself? 

We find every portion of God's handiwork instinct 
with the principle of progression. The seed, the plant, 
the blossom, the fruit, — these are the types of Nature's 
gradual workings. All change is a harmonious, con- 
nected succession. 

Gradual, above all, are the influences through which, 


under God's visible economy, man's character is formed. 
The constant dropping of circumstance, the slow hard- 
ening of habit, the unfolding, by imperceptible swell, 
of the affections, the enlistment, one by one, of govern- 
ing motives, the tardy expansion, stretching from 
infancy to ripe manhood, of the intellectual powers, — 
these are the means at work, acting so silently, modi- 
fying by degrees so microscopically minute, that, like 
the motion of the hour-hand over the dial of a small 
watch, the advance escapes our perception. We detect, 
when months or years have elapsed, a certain space 
passed over. We know that the unbroken chain of in- 
fluences has stretched on, though its links are invisible 
to mortal eyes. 

Such is the mode, so strictly gradual, so constantly 
operating through the intervention of slow-working 
agencies, under which alone, here upon earth, man's 
character is influenced. And this could not have been 
otherwise unless man had been created, not the pro- 
gressive free agent he is, but some creature essentially 

'NoY in the development of the human being, such as 
he is, do we find that God ever permits Himself (if one 
may so speak) to depart from the law inherent in the 
organization and attributes of the creature He has 
made. Progressively and mediately, by the interven- 
tion of motive presented, by the agency of will, by the 
influence of surroundings physical and social, — thus, 
and not otherwise, does God suffer man gradually to 
become what circumstance, daily acting on a constitu- 
tion like his, determines that he shall be. Thus, and 
not otherwise, so far as we can follow him, is man 
taught and guided. 

At last this progressive being reaches a point at 
which the body, that during its earlier vigor seconded 
in a measure the promptings of its immortal associate, 



faints and fails. It has served its purpose, like an aged, 
decaying tree. That which was crewhile felt as a com- 
fort and an aid becomes a burden and an incumbrance. 
Tlie Immortal has outgrown its perishable envelope. 
The larva drops off. The unmasked spirit is gone, 
beyond our ken. 

In following — as in thought we may — its invisible 
progress, since the ablest theologians differ in their 
interpretation of authority, what earthly guide can wo 
follow more trustworthy than analogy? Where but in 
the rule of the Past can we find reliable indication 
touching the probable rule in the Future? 

The conclusion is evident. He who conducts the soul 
to the brink of the Dark Eiver deserts it not on the 
hither side. Nor is that river the boundary of His 
realm. His laws operate beyond. Eut these laws, so 
far as we know them, exhibit no variableness nor 
shadow of turning. And I see neither reason nor like- 
lihood in the supposition that in any portion of crea- 
tion they are suspended or reversed. I see neither 
reason nor likelihood in the theory that, in any portion 
of creation, progress and exertion will fail to precede 
improvement, or that man will ever be degraded by 
agency other than his own. 

I find nothing absurd or irrational, therefore, in the 
postulates which the theory of spiritual interference 
involves. On the contrary, it seems to me probable 
enough that the attention of men may have been espe- 
cially called, in our modern day, to this very theory, 
in order to correct an important error, and thus to put 
an end to the mischief which that error may have occa- 

If it be true that Hades exists, the truth is an im- 
portant one. Eut in proportion to the importance of a 
truth denied arc the evil consequences likely to result 
from the denial. 


Does this apply in the instance under consideration? 
Do grave and serious evils result from rejecting the doc- 
trine of a mediate state after death ? 

Man is so constituted that remote inducements act 
upon him with feeble force. Experience proves that 
the power of reward, as an incentive, is in the inverse 
ratio of the distance at which it is set. And no maxim 
in jurisprudence is better established than this: that 
punishment, to be effectual, should tread close on the 
heels of the offense. 

If, then, we assume — as mental philosophers are wont 
to do — that a belief in future rewards and punishments 
is a chief incentive to truth and virtue, it is essential 
that their effect should not be enfeebled by remote- 

But this is precisely what Luther did in his eager 
desire to be rid of Purgatory. He postponed to a Day 
of Judgment, that may